DA says victim’s witness pays little | News, Sports, Jobs

HOLLIDAYSBURG — The Blair County Salary Board appears to be leaning toward a higher salary for the victim witness coordinator position that has been vacant since late June.

While the board declined to vote on Wednesday on an annual starting salary range of $41,800 to $51,000, the board agreed to meet at 9 a.m. Friday to consider its options.

District Attorney Pete Weeks, who told the salary board in October that the starting salary range of $37,836 to $40,863 was not high enough, said Wednesday qualified applicants had turned him down or said they wouldn’t take the job for less than $50,000. annually.

Without a higher starting salary, Weeks said the county still stands to lose grants under the Victims of Crime Act and the Rights and Services Act, which cover salaries and benefits for the position. victim witness coordinator and three additional jobs in the victim witness unit. .

If those grants are lost, Weeks said, county taxpayers may have to pick up the cost, as employees of the Victim Witness Unit take on the notification duties required by law.

Commissioner Laura Burke urged the other members of the wages board to support Weeks’ request for a higher starting salary range without delay.

Burke reminded the board that the issue of starting pay was reviewed in October, and in January, she provided each of them with information in support of higher starting pay for the position.

“It is clear to me at this point that (Weeks) cannot find someone who is qualified to work at the (approved) rate…and this position is critical to the functioning of the criminal justice system in Blair County,” said Burke.

Commissioners Bruce Erb and Amy Webster and Controller AC Stickel declined to take immediate action.

Erb said he needed time to do some calculations regarding the position’s weekly salary and hours.

Webster said she understood the importance of the office and did not want the county to lose its funding.

“I just want to understand the math,” she said.

In October, when Weeks called for the position’s starting salary to be $50,000, Erb spoke out against hiring at pay levels other than those set in response to job classification and the study. county wages.

The Victim-Witness Coordinator salary range of $37,836 to $40,853 was an hourly rate associated with the salary study.

In an attempt to raise that hourly rate based on job duties, Weeks said he and First Assistant District Attorney Nichole Smith in January submitted an updated job description to East Coast Risk Management, the company that conducted the county wage study.

The company, however, responded with a lower hourly rate for the position it had previously recommended.

“This particular supplier should no longer have any credibility”, Weeks said. “They further devalued a position that I can’t even hire someone for…even after submitting a (job description) with more tasks.”

Stickel said he wasn’t ready “to eliminate everything that (East Coast) has done for us.” But he, too, said he was not ready to vote immediately. He said he had questions and would like to speak with company staff about what information he did or did not receive and what he may or may not have overlooked.

Weeks said he was in contact with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which oversees county grants under the Victims of Crime Act and the Rights and Services Act.

The PCCD representative, according to Weeks, suggested that county grants could be given to a community agency. Weeks said he would oppose it on behalf of his office, which has a long history of advocating for victims and their rights.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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