The reorganization of East Washington’s police department has the borough searching for more money to pay for the higher costs associated with the impending changes.
Council President Bill Adams said he did not expect the borough would have difficulty moving around money in its budget to find the additional $25,000 he expects it will cost to make the changes in the coming months and fund the department for the remainder of the year.
He expects officials will be able to find additional money from the Marcellus Shale impact fee disbursement, which the borough expects to be more than $30,000 this year, and local share money from casino gaming.
“It’s like everything else,” Adams said. “We’re a small municipality, but we’re making some effort in a number of areas to try to recoup monies.”
The need to allocate or rearrange money, which will not mean a tax increase for property owners, is the result of council’s decision May 19 to retain the police department, with the expectation it would add one full-time officer and eliminate several part-time positions. The decision is in line with the plan unveiled by Adams and Councilwoman Lisa Crosier last year that would have two full-time officers and as many as seven part-timers, which is estimated to cost the borough about $261,000 for a full year.
That’s about $52,000 more than the borough budgeted to spend this year on police protection with a full-time chief and 16 part-time officers. Borough officials are expected to discuss at their June 16 voting meeting whether to advertise for all of the positions, including police chief. Adams said some of the newer council members want to see more information before proceeding.
“They want to see the numbers to be sure,” Adams said. “But I feel that Lisa (Crosier) and I have done it independently. We both came up with a way that it could be viable.”
He said they want to interview for all positions, including acting police Chief Mark Griffith’s job, so they can find the best candidates. However, Adams added that all current members of the force will be considered if they choose to apply for the positions.
“I think there was some confusion, and it’s because it’s all new,” Adams said. “We felt this was the fairest way for everybody, so nobody can say there is favoritism.”
The decision for East Washington to keep its police force comes after officials declined an offer from Washington for its officers to patrol the borough this year for $118,433. Borough officials also asked South Strabane to submit an estimate for police services, but township officials declined to offer a proposal.
Borough officials previously said they would like to have the new personnel roster in place by August.