Councilwoman: We cut everywhere we could
After listening to residents' concerns and questions about why it furloughed its three full-time police officers on Feb. 14, Coaldale Councilwoman Nancy Lorchak explained.
"We were $150,000 in debt," she said. "We cut everywhere we possibly could."
Lorchak said that the borough, which was negotiating a new contract for the three police officers, asked that they accept a two-year pay freeze and concessions on health care. That contract had yet to be settled as of Feb. 14.
She said a full-time patrolman's salary would be $20.67 an hour. A sergeant would make $21.48 an hour.
The three full-time police positions cost the borough a total of $176,589.56 a year in salaries and benefits, Lorchak said.
She said part-time police positions were recently given a raise to $18 an hour because they receive no benefits "as an incentive" for the furloughed officers to accept part-time jobs.
The furloughs were a "hard decision," Lorchak said. "I agree the police force is excellent. We didn't know what else to do."
"We worked hard not to do this," Councilman Joseph Hnat added.
Lorchak said decreasing revenues and heavy debt put the borough in a bad position.
"We have obligations to Jim Thorpe National Bank. We have a decrease in the number of people living in the borough," she said. "The revenue that has been coming in has been decreasing."
The delinquent tax rate for 2011 comes to $96,625.
That's not fair to those who do pay their taxes, said Lorchak.
"Coaldale is financed by the elderly and the working poor," she said.