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Pennsburg Borough Allocates $25K for New Officers
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Pennsburg Borough Council approved a budget amendment Monday that allocates an additional $30,000 to the roads department and $25,000 to hire two new part-time police officers.

            President Diane Stevens, Maggie Hange, F. Robert Seville and Wayne Stevens voted in favor of a package of changes, which included spending $16,000 on rebuilding the municipality's maintenance garage and $14,000 for a new sound system during a 55-minute special meeting.

            Vice President Patrick Suter, Michael R. Mensch and Joan Wieder voted against the budget changes. Suter expressed concerns over the costs and certain financial projections made by Stevens.

            Municipal officials originally budgeted $150,000 for roadwork. According to Stevens, the additional funds are necessary to complete much needed street improvements in the borough. Stevens cited Lakeview Terrace, where flooding is an issue.

            The previous council approved a 2020 budget without the funds to hire two new officers. According to Stevens, municipal officials removed them from a budget draft in October. 

Chief Joe Adam, Jr. said the Upper Perk Police Department hopes to begin the process of hiring an officer soon. He said the plan is to have the new officer ready to patrol in the fall. Stevens said the borough will likely begin the search for a second officer at the end of the year.

            "People in Pennsburg want more police," said Seville, a retired police officer, prior to the vote. "They want it, and they deserve it. Adding two part-time officers will help a little."

            Mayor Vicki Lightcap and Suter wondered aloud how the municipality could afford to maintain the new officers. They both decried Stevens' projection of an additional $25,000 in real estate transfer taxes from a T.H Properties development in the borough.

            According to the council president, Anthony Campbell – the borough's code enforcement officer – told her that the developer of the 11th Street subdivision is projected to sell 22 of 33 homes in 2020.

            Suter said he didn't feel comfortable counting on funds that were not guaranteed. He described Stevens' inclusion of them as projected revenue as irresponsible and a violation of general accounting privileges.  "We've got to be fiscally responsible for our citizens," Suter said.

            The sound system – which includes microphones and an automatic recorder – will be utilized during council meetings according to Seville. He said several citizens told him they could not hear the conversation between council members during the meetings. Municipal officials have not approved a system to purchase, according to an email received Tuesday from Lisa Hiltz, the borough's administrative manager.

            If everything works out the way Stevens predicts, the borough will have enough revenue to pay the items, according to Suter. However, he said that if her plan doesn't work out, the municipality might have to raise taxes, cut services or layoff the new police officers.

"We're literally counting our chickens before they hatch," the vice president said.

            According to Stevens, the new budget amendment adds more than $100,000 in increased projected revenue, including approximately $48,000 in projected Earned Income Taxes.

            In a series of text messages, she identified the newly approved purchase of an air compressor for $1,400 and $480 for council and mayor email accounts. Stevens also explained that she will forgo the $600 salary allocated to her as council president.





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