Lehighton Borough Council last night approved a new two-year contract with its eight-member police department.

It also formally adopted the 2011 budget which calls for a one-half mill tax increase.

The budget was passed by a 6-1 vote, with Councilman John Bird being the only one opposed.

A vote by council on setting the tax levy of 4.5 mills for 2011, which includes the half-mill hike, passed by a 5-2 vote with Bird and Council President Grant Hunsicker opposed.

The tax hike could have been higher, but the council opted to increase by $80,000 the transfer of funds from the Light and Power Department to the General Fund in 2011. Council said the additional transfer, which will total $730,000 in 2011, won't effect electric rates.

Council set trash collection rates at $300 per year for private residences and $360 per year for commercial properties. The residents and businesses are billed monthly.

The new police contract, which passed unanimously, calls for a 2.2 pay hike in the first year and a 2.7 percent pay increase in the second year.

In addition, the contract allows participation in the "DROP" program, a deferred retirement arrangement in which when someone reaches retirement age, payments into the retirement fund will be discontinued but the officer can continue to work for up to five more years.

One other provision in the agreement is that the police will contribute 5 percent to the police pension fund.

The new contract was negotiated by council members Dale Traupman and Melissa Ebbert. Both highly praised the police negotiating committee for their cooperation in working with the borough on the new agreement.

Several reappointments were made by the council. They are:

Ÿ John Quinn as zoning officer in January.

Ÿ George Petrole to a five-year term on the zoning hearing board.

Ÿ David Harleman to a five-year term on the water authority.

Ÿ Allen Young to a five-year term on the property maintenance board.

Ÿ Larry Stern to a four-year term on the sewer authority.

In addition, John Achterman was appointed to fill a vacancy on the sewer authority created by the resignation of Dr. Roy James, who resigned because of his work schedule.