GREENVILLE, PA. COG to take over borough lockup

Six part-time borough employees will lose their jobs with the change.
GREENVILLE, Pa. -- It could be termed "the changing of the guard at the Greenville Lock Up."
The Mercer County Council of Governments will take over the facility May 1, according to that agency's director, James DeCapua.
Greenville council introduced an ordinance to that effect during its regular meeting March 11. They are considering a meeting to take final action on that ordinance, but a date has not yet been set. Councilman Henry Mueller had said he wanted to move the change forward quickly.
The move will cost six part-time dispatcher-jail attendants their jobs.
Police Chief Thomas Strahler said the borough funded those positions for this year only until April 1. The Mercer County 911 dispatch center will take over all dispatching duties at that time, he said.
Strahler said the borough should save at least $10,000 a year under the arrangement.
The change in administration of the lockup is meant to ease the borough's crunched budget in the wake of the borough's $1.62 million deficit and the state-mandated recovery plan it must now follow since being designated a "distressed municipality."
DeCapua said that under COG administration the facility will become a regional lockup available to all participating municipalities.
Also must pass ordinance
Before the changes can take place, however, DeCapua said that all those municipalities -- Sugar Grove, Hempfield, Pymatuning and West Salem townships, as well as Greenville borough, must pass the same ordinance turning the jail over to COG. He said Mercer County commissioners also have to approve it as the facility will be available to the Mercer County Sheriff's Department and to the Mercer County Jail in case of "overflow."
The change won't affect the operations of the Greenville-West Salem Township Police Department, as DeCapua describes the situation, and it should mean only minor changes for the operation of the facility.
The Greenville-West Salem Police will continue to oversee any prisoners housed there during the day, Monday through Friday, he said, but COG will be paying the borough $5.50 per hour for the officer to do that.
For evenings, nights and weekends, COG will have guards on call and able to arrive at the facility only as needed when prisoners are being brought in or housed overnight, said DeCapua. The jail won't be staffed on nights and weekends unless prisoners are present.
Strahler said the part-time borough employees who are losing their jobs will be offered first opportunity to work as a lockup attendant for COG.
Each municipality will pay COG $10 per hour, per prisoner incarcerated there by that municipality, he said. Calculating from the number of prisoners processed through the lockup in 2001, DeCapua estimated that the hourly incarceration fee will raise $42,000 in the first year.
That money, he said, will be added to the $42,000 they expect to receive from a state grant to renovate the lockup.
DeCapua said the borough already has $50,000 from the state to bring the facility up to state code for wiring, plumbing and camera and monitoring equipment.
COG also oversees the Shenango Valley Regional Lock Up located in the Farrell municipal building, DeCapua said.