salisbury township board of commissioners
The Salisbury Township Police Department is seeking to hire two additional officers and the Salisbury Township Public Works Department is seeking to hire two additional employees.
Those were two of the topics during a one-hour 2012 township budget discussion during the Oct. 25 workshop session following the second monthly regular meeting of the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners.
Salisbury Township Police Chief Allen W. Stiles emphasized to commissioners that one police department position would be to fill a vacancy and that only one of the positions is for an additional officer.
Township commissioners chose to not fill one position in the department following a retirement and a promotion of an officer.
Salisbury Township Director of Public Works John Andreas said to commissioners his department has been reduced in staff because of attrition and retirements. Six department positions have not been filled since 2005.
"We're not able to provide services as we have in the past," Andreas said.
"We're not only losing labor, we lost 171 years of [accumulated] experience," Andreas said.
"We had a mild winter [2011-2012]. Most of our overtime comes from winter conditions," Andreas said.
One public works employee would be on utility duty and one would be on highway duty.
Funding of the public works positions could require an additional $100,000 in the public works operating budget.
Township Manager Randy Soriano said the funding of the positions could be split between the general fund and the water and sewer fund.
The public works contract calls for 3.75 percent annual pay increases.
Township department heads are expected to receive 2.5 percent annual increases.
The Consumer Price Index is 1.57 percent.
The financial impact of hiring two police officers on the public safety budget is uncertain.
The hiring of two police officers could add an estimated $131,000 to the public safety budget.
However, township officials are negotiating with the Salisbury Township Police Officers Association. The police contract expires at the end of the year.
"We'll talk about that [police officers contract] in executive session. I think I'll have some more news," Soriano said.
Commissioners met with Soriano and Atty. John W. Ashley in executive session following the Oct. 25 workshop, apparently to discuss the police pact.
Additional police department expenses are anticipated with the expected approval of the township joining the Lehigh County Municipal Emergency Response Team. There could be more overtime required for police training and responses. "The officer we lost I'd put him back on board," Commissioner Vice President Robert Martucci Jr. said.
There are 17 township police officers, including the chief.
"In the past couple of weeks, it's been [police] call after call after call," Stiles said. "We're very busy. Our call logs show that."
Two arrests were made for alleged drug-dealing during a football game at the Salisbury High School Stadium.
Another recent call was to Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest for an alleged child abduction.
Soriano noted hiring public works employees and police officers is not a one-time expense, but results in annual expenses that would increase because of pay, health care and other personnel increases.
Whatever the decision, "You need to increase revenue. That means taxes," Soriano said, adding he does not want to raise township municipal taxes.
"If you're going to do that [add employees], you have to increase taxes. I'm not proposing you raises taxes," Soriano said.
"But aren't we going to have to raise taxes at some point?" Commissioner Debra Brinton asked.
Soriano listed requested department budget requests and what he plans to allocate.
"My job is to cut," Soriano said.
Soriano said a decline in real estate transfer taxes, which was $600,000 in 2008, has had a significant impact on township revenue.
"You'll hear that it's up. I don't see that going up anytime soon or ever," Soriano said.
Several township Zoning Hearing Board meetings have been cancelled this year for lack of applicants, which observers say is one sign of a weak real estate market.