Lansford borough council on Wednesday voted 4-3 to restrict part-time police officers to working only when full-time officers were absent as a cost-saving measure.
But minutes later, one council member wanted to change his vote. That led to council rescinding the motion. Instead, it will wait to vote again on the measure until after it's listened to Police Chief John Turcmanovich and Mayor Ron Hood explain a proposed new schedule at council's Sept. 12 public meeting.
The restriction on part-time officers' hours was proposed by Councilman Tommy Vadyak.
The issue, first considered at a July 11 public council meeting, resurfaced Wednesday during a report on council's Public Safety Committee, which Vadyak chairs. He said the borough's revenue won't stretch until the end of the year unless something was cut. That prompted Councilwoman Mary Kruczek, who opposes any police department cuts, to say that the problem was created by people who wait until the end of the year to pay their taxes instead of paying them in April or May, as soon as the bills are sent out.
On July 11, Vadyak said that in 2010 council had hired two full-time officers to ensure coverage, and to cut back on the numbers and hours of part-timers in order to save money. However, he said, the part-time officers are now working 32 to 36 hours a week.
A vote at that meeting to restrict their hours failed, with only Vadyak and Danielle Smith voting in favor.
A special executive session meeting was held July 18 with Turcmanovich, Hood and Det./Sgt. Jack Soberick. At that meeting, Soberick suggested starting 10-hour shifts as of Sept. 1 to cut overtime costs, and Hood said that the salaries for the part-time officers were currently under-budget.
On Wednesday, council initially voted to restrict the part-timers' hours, with Vadyak, Andrew Snyder, Lenny Kovach, and Smith voting in favor, and Kruczek, president Rose Mary Cannon, and Samantha Yasson opposed.
Kruczek said that there are 21 shifts a week, and six full-time officers, so the part-time coverage is needed.
After continued discussion, Kovach said he wanted to change his vote, and council agreed to rescind the motion.
Kovach then moved to have Turcmanovich and Hood attend the next public meeting to explain a proposed schedule and answer other questions.
In his report, Vadyak also mentioned some disciplinary problems in the police department, including some officers being habitually late for their shifts.
Council president Rose Mary Cannon said many of the issues had been addressed by Hood, but Vadyak disagreed.
Council also held a spirited discussion over whether the borough should sell the three Tasers and the assault weapons from the police department. The Tasers were never used. Kruczek said that was because council never approved their use, nor did it send officers for the required training.