YORK – Currently, the county leases a property in downtown York to house the offices used by District 5 probation.
State statute calls for counties to provide office space for the probation officers who serve that jurisdiction.
Now, with the county’s aging offices and public transportation services having moved to a new location in the past week – that means there is an empty county-owned building near the fairgrounds. And the commissioners are considering moving the probation offices there because the building is already county-owned and paid for.
York County Commissioner Chairman Randy Obermier said he talked with those in charge of the local probation division and representatives of probation went to the former aging/transportation building to have a look.
“Right now, in that building, there are five offices, a reception area, two bathrooms, a kitchen/break area, and a large open room about 12x20 feet,” Obermier explained to the other county board members this week during their regular meeting. “OK, that’s pretty much the lay of the land in that building. Well, they would like more offices. Now, by statute, we have to give them what’s adequate – the question of what is adequate, well that’s the question. We are hoping to put up two walls in the big room to create office space and another wall to add a storage area in an office. They said they have six officers and a supervisor, so they will need seven offices in there. That is a want. I’m not totally convinced they need that many offices in there.”
“I don’t know if they ever even used that many offices at once in the building where they have been and are now,” added Commissioner Bill Bamesberger.
“That’s exactly what I was going to say,” said Commissioner Kurt Bulgrin. “In this situation, I envision a situation where you go to work and use whatever space is available.”
“I agree, we’ve never seen all those offices filled the whole time, all day,” said Commissioner Jack Sikes. “One office could be used by several probation officers.”
“And they brought up another need,” Obermier said to his fellow board members. “Because they would be moving further away from the courthouse, they think more people will pull a no-show when they are supposed to meet with probation officers right after court. So they would like a processing room in the courthouse for meeting with those clients, right after court.”
“No,” Commissioner Bulgrin responded.
“Well, they said they think that if people have to go 10 blocks, they might not show up,” Obermier said, explaining the probation heads’ request.
“Well, that’s their problem and not ours,” Bulgrin responded.
“The offices out there will need some paint, some carpet cleaning, etc. We know that,” Obermier said. “Regarding the office space itself, we will need to decide if we are going to say, ‘No, this is what you get,’ or we invite them in to talk about it.”
“I totally agree that those offices need to be painted and cleaned, etc.,” Bulgrin said. “But their other requests – do they even have seven probation officers working in the office all at once, all at the same exact time, all the time? And this holding room thing is a joke – they are just flaunting their notion of power over our heads.”
“What is considered adequate, yes, that’s the question,” said York County Attorney John Lyons. “It is a practical question. If my opinion were asked for, a common interview room could be utilized. Regarding having a space in the courthouse where people could sit down with a probation officer – if we had a small space that was vacant, they could use it from time to time. We don’t have court all the time and we can only have one trial at a time. There could maybe be a temporary space that they could use from time to time. But they need to understand we have a limited amount of universe in this courthouse. Everyone will have to compromise.”
“The state statute says adequate space – is there anything in the state statute that says other counties have to help pay for it?” asked Commissioner Jack Sikes, reviving a long-held argument from this county board that other counties who benefit from the service of probation officers housed in York County should help pay for their office space/accommodations.
“What happened is that we were lied to and bamboozled by (a probation director) who has now moved up the ladder and is gone,” Bulgrin said.
“I think the adequate thing to do is say ‘This what you’ve got’ and they can come in to discuss it,” Obermier said.
“Really, all they really need in an office is a desk, two chairs, maybe a file cabinet,” Bamesberger said, suggesting the sizes of the offices do not have to be large.
“And, going back, I also agree with Kurt (Commissioner Bulgrin) that if someone is convicted of a crime, it’s a ‘them issue’ not an ‘us issue’ if they become a no-show by not going to the probation office because it is further away,” Lyons added.
“I will invite them to come in and visit with us,” Commissioner Obermier said.
“And you can tell them that this is it,” Commissioner Bulgrin added.
It’s expected that this conversation will be scheduled in the near future.