SUNBURY — The Northumberland County Board of Commissioners said they are looking into whether raising the starting salary of county correctional officers would help decrease the turnover rate.
At the monthly public meeting on Tuesday, Commissioner Sam Schiccatano and Rick Shoch said the prison board members have been discussing options on how to keep employees and cut back on overtime, which has reached more than $250,000 since the new jail opened in October. Commissioner Kymberley Best said it was time to increase wages.
"We've discussed it, and we're still discussing it," said Schiccatano.
The topic was brought up by Fran Ruzicka, of Sunbury, who has two sons working at the prison. She originally came to public meetings in April to urge county officials to solve the overtime issue because she was worried about the safety of her sons and other correctional officers. On Tuesday, she asked the commissioners to raise the starting wage above $12.50.
"It's a dangerous job," she said. "It's just not fair."
Ruzicka said she planned to attend every public meeting until the starting wages were increased.
The commissioners said every correctional facility has a high turnover rate, and there's more to people leaving the job than just wages. They noted the county has a high benefit package for pension and health care.
At the May prison board meeting, officials reported that jail in Coal Township has 88 total employees, four above the initial recommendation from the county's consultant.
The next public prison board meeting is scheduled for today at 11 a.m. at the administration center, 399 Stadium Drive, Sunbury.