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Organizers to pay full rate if officer is needed for event

Special event organizers in Jim Thorpe Borough will continue to pay the full $78 per hour rate when it is determined a police officer needs to be present at their event, even if that officer is a part-timer.

The decision came after a request from Jim Thorpe Area School District for a lesser, part-time rate, when a part-time officer worked an athletic contest or other district event. The borough charged $78 per hour when one of its officers is working an event outside of their normal patrol hours, and it does not distinguish between full or part time.

“I think we need to keep one established fee,” Mayor Mike Sofranko told council before its vote on Thursday. “I’m open as to what that fee is, but I don’t think we should have multiple rates. I do understand the school district’s concern though. They are watching money just like we do.”

Sofranko said the current rate is based off the services the officer is rendering, but doesn’t factor in equipment costs such as bulletproof vests, insurance for the officer, fuel in the police car, and wear and tear of equipment.

While Police Chief Joe Schatz said splitting the rates could have been done, he predicted all event organizers would be lobbying the borough to send part-time officers if their rate was lower.

“I can’t have someone asking for part-timers, because they don’t want to pay for a full-timer,” Schatz said. “That won’t work because our contract doesn’t allow for that.”

When an event needs an officer, Schatz offers the job to his full-time personnel first. If they all refuse, part-time officers then have a chance to take it. That is currently the way protocol in the officers’ contract.

According to Sofranko, Schatz’s fear of that situation is not far-fetched.

“We’ve heard it from other event organizers,” Sofranko said. “They have asked for a lower fee. We haven’t done it to this point because that is what council wanted to do.”

In addition to Sofranko’s recommendation, council also heard support of their decision from planning commission Chairman Louis Hall.

“I’ve been in business for a long time and when someone hires us to do a job, it makes no difference whether I send a full- or part-time person. They are there to do the job suggested. I suggest you stick to the one fee.”