KITTANNING – Armstrong County officials are hoping that a new three-year contract with higher wages will help boost staffing levels at the county jail.

Last week, county commissioners Don Myers, Jason Renshaw and Pat Fabian approved the contract settlement agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union representing correction officers at the Armstrong County Jail in Rayburn Township.

The contract boosts the starting pay rate to $16 per hour for full- and part-time correction officers.

“Hopefully it does attract the new officers,” Myers said. “There’s a desperate need.”

According to the county, the jail is short about 14 full-time correction officers out of 40 positions, and down 18 out of 20 part-time positions.

Fully staffed, the collective bargaining agreement would cover about 60 employees.

The agreement also boosts wages for non-starting full- and part-time correction officers by 2 percent retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021. It also calls for either a 2 parent pay increase or a base wage increase based upon a three-year average of the Consumer Price Index effective Jan. 1, 2022, and the same increases again on Jan. 1, 2023.

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Fabian noted that this is the county’s second collective bargaining agreement that was successfully negotiated without going through the arbitration process.

“All this was done without raising taxes,” he said.

“We negotiate for the taxpayers,” Myers added.

In Armstrong County Jail Warden Phillip Shaffer’s August report to the county’s Prison Board, he noted that the jail’s average daily population was 143.74 inmates for the month.

In other business at their Oct. 7 meeting, the commissioners proclaimed Oct. 28 as Joseph Rodney Chapman Day in the county on account of the Freeport-area resident’s 100th birthday.

The commissioners also approved a $5,000 donation from the county’s Marcellus Legacy funds for a memorial garden project at the House of Hope Church of God of Prophecy.

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