Hiring additional police officers, recycling topics of Exeter council meeting

By B. Garret Rogan - For Sunday Dispatch | February 5th, 2016 11:14 am

EXETER — The borough council discussed police and recycling among other topics during Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting.

Mayor Herman Castellano used his turn to speak at the meeting to directly address comments made by Exeter blogger and former council candidate Ron Rome regarding his belief that the borough should hire one or two additional full-time police officers.

Exeter currently has two full-time police officers and eight part-time officers.

Castellano pointed out that roughly one-third of Exeter’s $1.5 million 2016 budget is devoted to the Exeter Borough Police Department. He added that the hiring of just one officer would add $64,000 to that budget in terms of a year’s salary plus benefits.

He then shared his belief that the police department was currently “in good shape” as it is and that additional full-time officers are not needed and cannot be afforded.

Councilman Larry Dellegrotto then stated that any hiring of a new full-time officer would result in a “minimum tax increase of 40 percent” per Exeter resident.

In other police news, the borough announced the creation of the position of captain, which current acting officer in charge Michael Coolbaugh stated that he hopes to fill.

The council also voted to place GPS devices in all police and Department of Public Works vehicles, which will not only provide the location of the vehicles in real time but alert borough officials to any required maintenance as soon as it is needed.

Borough officials are also researching costs associated with acquiring body cameras for its police officers.

In other matters, borough resident Joanne Shiner shared her research that a change to single-stream recycling may be more convenient, but may ultimately cost the borough more money in the long run. She asked what research might have been done by borough officials.

Karen Szwast, the borough’s recycling coordinator, stated that extensive research has been done and that the borough’s current separated recycling system combined with effective collection strategies has allowed for an incredibly efficient and environmentally-friendly recycling effort.

Council Chairman Thomas Shannon then added that the issue is regularly debated but the borough has no intentions to convert to single-stream recycling at this point.

Exeter will hold its next regular council meeting at 7 p.m. on March 1.

By B. Garret Rogan

For Sunday Dispatch

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