Missoula County has officially agreed to provide Missoula Corrections employees with a pay raise and extend their contract for 18 months as changes to the program are explored.
Shantelle Gaynor, director of the Missoula County Community Justice Department, said the contracts were for employees under misdemeanor supervision, pretrial services and community service.
“In particular, reclamation services have struggled to hire and retain staff. Part of that is the salary offered and the opportunities in other places,” Gaynor said. “Community services and the misdemeanor contract are asking for 3% increases, and pretrial is asking for a 4.3% increase.”
The total sum after increases and during the contract year is just under $21,000, with pre-trial 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 cost-of-living estimates,” Gaynor said. “(Pretrial) have been absolutely challenged with staffing, and it has impacted their ability to deliver services. If it means we get quality service, it’s worth the price of admission.
The county is also looking to make changes to the program to bring it into line with national standards. Along with the salary increase, the county will extend the contract to 18 months, bringing it into 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 assessment of pre-trial services and investigate if there is a change needed, and provide support around any potential changes,” said Gaynor. “It also shifts pre-trial services to the fiscal year as opposed to the calendar year.”
Last week, county commissioners voiced support for the contract changes.
“Let’s not give up on our attempts to bring things more in line with what we understand to be nationally known best practices,” Commissioner Josh Slotnick said.