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Pennsburg Borough to Layoff Two Police Officers, Offers Chief Early Retirement
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

Pennsburg and East Greenville to rely on State Police to fill gaps in 24-hour coverage


            Pennsburg Borough Council voted Wednesday to layoff two Upper Perk Police Department officers and unanimously ratified an early retirement offer to Chief Michael Devlin.

            The personnel changes were facilitated to address a significant budget shortfall and continue providing customary borough operations, according to council President Kris Kirkwood.

            During the special meeting, the members considered a revised budget that calls for eliminating $350,000 worth of expenditures, according to Kirkwood.

            The elimination of two patrol officers would prevent the municipal department from providing round-the-clock coverage in the borough, according to the council president. He estimated that the remaining Upper Perk police officers would cover between 60 percent and 75 percent of the hours.

            "That's my best guess," Kirkwood said after the meeting.

            Additionally, the Pennsburg department will share one of its officers with the Montgomery County District Attorney's office for the remainder of the season, according to Mayor Vicki Lightcap.  She said an arrangement with the county, to pay half of that officer's salary, helped allow the municipality to maintain a police department with four officers and a chief.

            Council also offered an early retirement to any officer over the age of 50 with at least 25 years of service. According to Member Fred Schutte, any officer who accepts the officer would receive full pension benefits.

            According to the council president, the borough would save approximately $316,000 in salaries from the layoffs and Devlin's retirement. 

            Kirkwood said that the borough expects to generate the additional $34,000 by selling unneeded equipment. He identified two police cars and one van as well as firearms and old computers. He declined to disclose if any of those items were being sought by East Greenville officials.

            "I can't answer that question," Kirkwood said after the meeting. "I don't know the answer."

            The council president declined to identify the officers who will be laid off. Municipal officials are required to provide three months' notice to each employee, according to Solicitor Matthew Hovey. He said the officers - the lowest tenured in the department, each with 10 years of service - would likely end their tenure in Pennsburg in late April. Both are entitled to 10 weeks of severance pay, according to Lightcap.

            Member Robert Seville cast the lone vote against the motion to layoff the officers. He said they will be sorely missed.

            "It should have never come to this," said Seville, a retired police officer, fighting back tears. "It upsets me very much (that his happened.) The Upper Perk valley is going to take a big loss because of this."

            Devlin's retirement would not become officials until he ratifies the agreement, according to Kirkwood. He said the current police chief is not opposed to this idea.

            The early retirement agreement with Devlin will allow the department to save another officer, according to Lightcap.  





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