Possible reasons for a $32,000 bill from the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority for water and sewer charges for the Lycoming County Prison were detailed by Warden Brad Shoemaker at the recent prison board meeting.
Shoemaker told the board he had reached out to the maintenance manager to see if there had been any changes in the charges per gallon for water and sewer. He had also looked at the prison population to see if there had been an increase in the number of inmates housed there daily.
Carrying his inquiry further, Shoemaker had done a cost comparison with the third quarter during the previous two years.
“The third quarter bill in 2019 for water and sewer was $35,296. The average daily population at that time was 344.06. The bill was $27,749 in 2020 in the third quarter. The average daily population in 2020 for the third quarter was 216.08,” Shoemaker said.
For this year’s third quarter, the average daily population was 267.23 and the bill was $32,168.
“So, you can see with the number going up, we were averaging 55 inmates per day more in the third quarter versus last year. …It would certainly play into why we saw an increase in the water bill,” Shoemaker said.
Another factor for water usage at the prison is the daily temperatures, which were above average during the summer months.
The maintenance manager told him that, “depending upon the average daily temperature, if it’s hotter and we’re running the air conditioning a lot more, the type of unit at the prison uses a lot of water.”
County Commissioner Rick Mirabito also asked the warden if he had seen an increase in food costs in the prison system.
“I don’t have an answer as far as whether the food costs total have gone up, pricing has gone up. When I met with my food service supervisor he advised that this year, based on his contacts with the vendors that he uses, we should budget for a more significant increase than we have in the past,” Shoemaker said.
Total expenditures approved for September were $149,687. Revenue was $39,875.
Under personnel, the board approved hiring Michael Sisley, full-time correctional officer, and Morgan Stone and Paige Emerick as full-time resident supervisors. These were all replacements.
There are still five correctional officer vacancies as well as a vacancy for an LPN position.
The next meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 12 in the Commissioners’ Board Room, Executive Plaza, 330 Pine St.