Prison guards among York County's highest-paid employees

Written by Ed Mahon/The York Daily Record | Nov 30, 2017 12:00 PM

The York County prison work-release facility on Concord Road in Springettsbury Township.(Photo: Kate Penn - Daily Record/Sunday News)

(York) -- The district attorney, the three commissioners, and dozens of corrections officers and captains were among the highest-paid employees in York County government in 2016.

Not counting the warden, 17 York County Prison employees earned above $90,000 in 2016.

A lot of the compensation for prison employees comes from overtime.

"It's a problem," said Commissioner Doug Hoke, head of the prison board.

For instance, the county prison paid $546,621 in overtime for July, according to prison board meeting minutes.

The county isn't on the hook for all the overtime costs. In that July total, $40,209 was billed to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which pays the county to house federal immigration detainees.

But the county still faces a large overtime bill each month.

And county prison leaders have pursued several changes, Hoke said.

  • Commissioners have approved more corrections officers in the budget.
  • The new warden, Clair Doll, has looked into changing assignments and is working on reorganizing the management structure.
  • The county invited the state Department of Corrections to do a complete review of the York County facility and provide recommendations. The final report has not been completed yet.
  • The county is looking into hiring an outside company to monitor requests for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Why does that matter? When prison employees take off under FMLA, other guards often have to work overtime, Hoke said.

Timothy J. Turek, a union representative for York County Prison employees, declined an interview request.

Leaders at the state level also struggle with overtime costs. A recent York Daily Record story found that 66 state corrections officers amassed enough overtime and paid leave to make more than $125,676 in 2016.  

"We'd like to see the state prisons staffed properly, so our officers who have one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the commonwealth can do their jobs without putting their life in jeopardy," Jason Bloom, president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, wrote in an emailed statement.

The highest-paid York County Prison employee earned $119,437 in 2016.

The county provided compensation for employees in response to an open records request. 

The database included more than 3,100 people. Some of those employees worked part of the year. The database included total earnings, but it did not break the earnings down into categories.

The highest-paid person on the list was York County District Attorney Tom Kearney, who earned $175,572. The salary for county district attorneys is set by state law, and state law says counties are supposed to be reimbursed for a portion of their salary.

Susan Byrnes, as president of the York County Board of Commissioners, ranked 40th for total earnings. She was paid $89,730.

The other county commissioners, who oversee the budget and set tax rates, are Hoke and Chris Reilly. They each earned $86,526.

A few dozen prison employees earned more than Hoke and Reilly in 2016.

The earning records that the county provided did not include common pleas judges, the court administrator and others whose compensation is set by the state and who are paid by the state, according to county spokesman Mark Walters.

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