A divided Nesquehoning Borough Council voted to approve the long overdue contract of Police Chief Sean Smith in a 4-3 vote on Thursday, which included a 9.4-percent pay increase for Smith.
Councilwoman Rose Walck was the first to raise her concerns with the agreement, due to the fact that solicitor Robert Yurchak added additional items to the version originally viewed by council.
These additional items were as a result of negotiations that took place with Yurchak, Smith and Police and Public Safety committee members David Hawk, Richard Zabroski and council President Mark Stromelo.
Councilwoman Walck questioned why Mayor Tony Walck, as supervisor of the police department, was not present during the negotiations. Stromelo replied that Smith had "requested that he not be present."
She also requested that council wait to vote on the issue until the new borough council was in place for 2012.
Mayor Tony Walck then took issue with paragraph two of the agreement and under the non-interference clause, wanted it removed as he claimed it was in direct violation of the Pennsylvania Borough code article 1121 which states, "The mayor of the borough shall have full charge and control of the chief of police and the police force and he shall direct the time during which, the place where and the manner in which the chief of police and the police force shall perform their duties."
"In the contract and in the second paragraph it doesn't negate that I still answer to the mayor," Smith responded.
He reminded council that attorney Yurchak had recommended that the paragraph be included and added, "It says that the mayor is in charge and I answer to him."
Councilman Frank Jacobs expressed his concern with the rate of the increase and Councilwoman Mary Fox also shared his concern and questioned whether or not the increase could be spread out over the next three years.
Councilman Hawk responded by saying that Smith's duties and responsibilities warranted an increase and that the new rate would bring him up to where he should be. He also noted that the figures for the new salary were included in the proposed budget, which did not include any increase in taxes.
In other business, council voted to approve a request for the Lion's Club to use the borough building to hold its December meeting.
Chief Smith announced that the DARE graduation will be held Dec. 15 at 1:30 p.m. at the Panther Valley Elementary School.