Weissport chief resigns
Members of Weissport Council adopted the 2010 budget Monday when three of five members voted to override the mayor's refusal to sign the tax ordinances.
During the meeting Police Chief John J. Doucette III also announced he is resigning.
The budget was at a stalemate because Mayor Tina Hagenbuch announced that she was refusing to sign the tax ordinances. She said that there were not enough funds budgeted for the police department needs, especially for training of weapons.
Last night council proceeded to the next step by overriding her vote. In order for the budget to pass, all three members present had to vote affirmatively, which is what happened. Both Tommy McEvilly and Steven Mansueto were absent from last night's meeting. Voting to override the budget were Shannon McAward, president; Sue Pywar, vice president; and Arland Moyer.
Council raised taxes last year to cover a budget shortfall due to overspending of the police budget in 2008.
At the meeting held Dec. 7, four of the five council members voted to adopt the budget.
McAward had noted that Mayor Hagenbuch did not attend any of the budget meetings. McAward also noted that council adoption of the budget is a council administrative action, but that the tax ordinance does require the signature of the mayor, which is why council was forced to override Hagenbuch's veto.
Hagenbuch's objections focused on the section of the budget that provides funding for police protection, especially the area that would provide payment for training, weapons, ammunition and the costs for JNET.
The millage for 2010 is 8.9 mills, which is the same total as last year's millage. Council anticipates receipts of $144,211.33 in 2010.
In 2010, the budget allocates for $27,193 for police expenses, including police salary.
As Chief Doucette III offered his letter of resignation, he asked that the action become final in 30 days. He said that he has secured a full-time police officer position closer to his home.
Doucette thanked the mayor and especially council members for their tireless support of the police department.
"During my short tenure of 36 months, the police department has seen a lot of change to include a second police car (donated by his solicitation), a third police officer as a result of aggressive traffic enforcement and the monetary funds received as a result of these activities," he said. "To further expand upon this aspect we have written approximately 2,000 citations of which I am personally responsible for 1,500 of them."
Doucette also noted that the department successfully investigated and prosecuted six DUI cases in which all but two were his cases. In addition, the department made 10 felony arrests which he assisted with or was personally responsible for.
He said that the two most notable arrests were two drug-related search warrants, which led to the successful conviction of a drug dealer who frequented Weissport. He said the individual was arrested with a stolen gun, cocaine and marijuana, all of which were obtained with a search warrant after a traffic stop. The second drug arrest was of a resident of Weissport whose drug related activities had not gone unnoticed. He said this arrest resulted in confiscation of more than a kilogram of marijuana, cocaine and manufacturing materials for distribution.
Doucette said that his greatest achievement was being able to open communication and develop professional relationships with neighboring police departments.
"We have seen the relationship and the community grow," he said. "The streets are now clear on late evenings when we patrol. Open air drug dealing was delivered a great blow from the inception of our police department when you hired me as your chief and until the reality of budget constraints due to the economy and other mitigating factors. We have seen a lot of change and that change has been for the better."
"I feel a sense of personal satisfaction knowing that I am leaving Weissport Borough Police Department better and stronger than I found it. None of this would have been possible, especially without the constant support of the mayor. I have never seen someone so dedicated to making change happen regardless of the obstacles before her."
Doucette noted that he has come away learning a lot about Weissport and said he loves the town and the people.
He said that he was willing to continue past the 30 days in Weissport until a replacement is found. He also offered to assist the new chief by helping with his orientation.