The Spring City Borough Council met for its regular meeting on Monday night. Among discussions were the police contract, the resignation of one of the force's full-time officers, the library negotiations, and the website redesign.
The new police contract, which runs from Jan. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2014, was approved unanimously at the meeting. Board Member Thomas Kratz reported the negotiations began in Spring 2011, but were put on hold due to personnel complications. The new contract was most recently agreed upon by both parties.
Salary increases for full-time officers are scheduled be three percent in 2012, four percent in 2013, and five percent in 2014. Health insurance remains with Blue Cross, using the flex plan C1-F2-01, with the borough paying 100 percent of the premium. Officers will also keep dental, prescription and eye plans, paid by borough 100 percent. Reimbursement for equipment and uniforms is increasing from $300 to $700 annually.
"Not a whole lot has changed," said Council President Lou DiGuiseppe. "We're giving them a fair pay raise with the terms of the economic situation right now. We did the best we could with the money we had available without breaking the backs of the taxpayers in town. The only other option would be to do away with police and let the state police take care of us."
Council also adopted a resolution to put out for advertisement for an ordinance to abolish the use of civil service commission in the borough. The civil service commission provides its own grievance system for officers who think they were unjustly terminated, as well as aids in the hiring process of new officers. Borough Manager Dennis Rittenhouse explained he contacted the solicitor of the local commission, who said it is not required that the borough utilize the commission, since historically the borough operates with three or less full-time officers at one time.
Abolishing the commission also saves the borough money and allows Chief of Police Art Brown to make quicker and more defined decisions on personnel. With the abolition of the commission, the borough will adopt its own grievance policy, which council regarded as strong.
Councilman Mike Hays asked who would then be involved in the hiring process besides the chief, to which DiGuiseppe said personnel fell under the chief's discretion 100 percent with the new contract.
"This cuts away all the red tape and the expense of hiring three chiefs and booking time at the exercise range, etc.," DiGuiseppe said.
Kratz said Hays brings up a good point and that the borough should develop a policy so the chief follows background checks, psychological evaluation and a physical fitness test that will ensure each hired officer is ready for the street.
Full-time Officer Brandon Unruh also submitted his letter of resignation to the council recently, which was approved unanimously at the meeting. Unruh was on the force as a part-timer before taking a full-time position in September. Kratz indicated a part-time officer would fill in for the shifts left vacant by Unruh's resignation.
As for the basement project, being administered by Brown and the police department, Kratz reported money is available from a grant to clean up. The Chief also requested he get copy of budget this year, as he did not receive one upon being hired.
The department logged 268 complaints in the month of February, including: one burglary, 11 thefts, one criminal mischief, 27 traffic citations (three speeding), seven criminal arrests, two accidents, and six parking tickets. The department assisted East Vincent Township 15 times, Royersford three times, East Pikeland two times, East Coventry three times, and the Skippack Barracks of the Pennsylvania State Police once. The two patrol vehicles traveled 3,394 miles, and used 294.3 gallons of gas.
Hays gave his report for the library for the month of March, which yielded some good news. Several board members met with members of the United Methodist Church, which shares the parking lot with the library. Hays said a tentative agreement has been reached on the lot easement.
"This is very good news as negotiations were stalled for quite some time," Hays concluded.
Terry McCarthy of 328 Walnut St., and president of the library board was in attendance and reported the agreement has been sent to an attorney. Council suggested the board get the agreement to the borough's solicitor, Robert Romain, as soon as possible for further review.
Councilman Gene Sweeney was given the responsibility of redesigning the borough's website to become more interactive for the public at the last meeting. Sweeney said he met with councilman and former webmaster Jim Burns. The two decided the current server is not flexible enough for the vision that council has. Therefore, Sweeney researched web hosting services, and found one that would cost $41.88 the first year, and 83.88 per year after the first.
His visions would be to also set up a Google Calendar so residents can subscribe to it to receive updates on meetings and events right to their email and cell phones. He also said he set up a Twitter, Facebook and YouTube account for the borough to be better in touch with the community.
Sweeney spoke with the principal at Kutztown Middle School, which is his place of employment, and received approval to allow students in his class to assist with the website and social media aspects.
"Students will get hands-on experience with HTML, learn the importance of deadlines and marketing," Sweeney said.
Council agreed that Sweeney should continue going down this path and approved the use of $41.88 for the first year of the new web service. Sweeney said it would take about six weeks to turn everything over from the old site to the new server and to design the new look.
In other news...
- DiGuiseppe reported the finance committee looked at options of flag sizes, shapes and designs for Main Street, and further discussed the pet ordinance. The committee is waiting for Councilman Mike Petak, who is coming back to them with a recommendation from a legitimate veterinarian on sizes of space needed to cage animals outside safely.
- Burns reported the annual Easter egg hunt was held on March 31 at 11 a.m., and was attended by over 100 children and adults. He said it was "fairly successful."
- Time extension for library – new date of Oct. 15, 2012 was accepted unanimously.
- DiGuiseppe also reported the borough had been shopping for a new Emergency Management Coordinator. Todd Bliss, former Spring City Fire Chief is willing to undertake the position. The council voted unanimously to recommend Bliss to the governor for approval.
- The next meeting for the borough council is on May 7 at 7:30 p.m.