Missoula County has formally agreed to provide a wage increase to employees under Missoula Correctional Services and to extend its contract for 18 months as changes to the program are explored.
Shantelle Gaynor, director of the Missoula County Community Justice Department, said the contracts relate to employees under misdemeanor supervision, pretrial services and community service.
“In particular, pretrial services has had a challenge in hiring and maintaining staff. Some of that is wages offered and opportunities at other places,” Gaynor said. “Community services and the misdemeanor contract are asking for 3% increases, and pretrial is asking for 4.3% increase.”
The sum total after the increases and within the contract year amount to just under $21,000, with the pretrial increases amounting to $12,000.
The program has funding in the budget to accommodate the requested increases, county officials said.
“The 3% is very close to our own estimates for cost of living,” Gaynor said. “(Pretrial) absolutely has been challenged with staffing, and it’s been having impacts on their ability to deliver services. If it means we get quality service, it’s worth the price of admission.”
The county also is looking to make changes to the program to bring it in line with national standards. Along with the wage increase, the county will extend the contract to 18 months, bringing it in line with the fiscal year – not the calendar year as before.
“The idea with an 18-month extension, it gives us enough time to continue our evaluation of pretrial services and investigate if there’s needed change, and provide support around any potential change,” Gaynor said. “It also puts pretrial services back on the fiscal year as opposed to the calendar year.”
County commissioners last week expressed support for the contract changes.
“Let’s not let up on our attempts to bring things more in alignment with what we understand to be nationally known best practices,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick.