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Supervisors Table Motion to Hire Full-Time Officer

Police Chief Alan Siegfried believes Upper Nazareth Township is relying too heavily on part-time police officers; supervisors table vote until May.

Police Chief Alan Siegfried asked to hire a full-time police officer -- a position that is -- for the fourth time since Feb. 3.

And for the fourth time, the delayed the decision, this time until the May 2 meeting.

Siegfried provided the supervisors Wednesday night with three possible start dates that coincide with the beginning of pay periods -- April 23, May 7 and June 4.

Supervisors James Augustine and Andy Donello previously said they'd like to see tax revenue roll in before they committed to hiring another officer.

According to Supervisor Scott Sylvainus, the township’s revenue was up $49,000 in the first quarter and the net income was up $129,000. In addition, the township received $240,000 in the first round of real estate taxes.

The township had for real estate taxes.

“Is there a comfort level yet with the taxes?” Sylvainus asked the rest of the board. Mike Rinker, chairman of the supervisors, was absent.

“We just finished the first quarter,” said Supervisor Willard Mohn, who has been absent from the last two meetings due to illness. “I’m not sure yet. The first quarter is just an early step.”

Sylvainus said he was “very comfortable” with the June 4 start date.

The sticking point for Augustine wasn’t the cost to hire the officer now, but the cost to keep the officer year after year.

“I’m looking at the total expense at the end of the year, and the year after that, and the year after that,” he said. “It’s a permanent position. I’m looking at the bigger picture.”

Augustine added, “We’re having some financial problems. Three months out of the year is not enough -- that’s just my personal opinion. There’s a public safety issue and a financial issue. Right now, I think the financial issue is out-weighing the public safety issue.”

According to Siegfried, the township is relying heavily on part-time officers. In 2010, part-time officers worked 19 percent of the hours. Two years later, in 2012, the part-time officers are working a little over 32 percent of the hours.

“You’re relying heavily on part-time officers who can easily say, ‘See ya. Bye.’ And you can’t replace them by next month’s schedule. It can’t happen," Siegfried said, adding that at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

“You’re losing that reliability,” he explained. “In the event an officer gets hurt, now you’re going to ask [the part-time officers] to work even more hours until that officer gets back to work. There are limitations to what part-time officers can do and the time they can devote to a part-time job.”

Donello, who noted that many local departments share the same officers, asked Siegfried what those departments are doing.

“ is relying heavily on part-time officers,” Siegfried said. “If you read the newspapers, you know . Their part-time people are limited in the hours they can devote. When people get hurt, they don’t have enough people to fill in. They’re relying on State Police coverage.”

The motion to hire a full-time officer was tabled until the May 2 meeting. The supervisors did not want to discuss the matter at the April 18 meeting because of the expected vote on .

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