Last updated: February 19. 2013 10:15PM - 321 Views

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The Dupont Police department is safe. For now.

Mayor Dan Lello and Council President Stanley Knick assured a packed council meeting Tuesday night the department is staying put.

Council unanimously passed a 2013 budget that fully funds the department.

Lello said several borough representatives recently attended a series of shared services meetings that focused on police regionalization.

At the most recent meeting, Ron Stern, a local government policy specialist from the state Department of Community and Economic Development's Governor's Center for Local Government Services, urged local municipalities to allow his organization to do a feasibility study to potentially start a regionalized police department.

Council agreed to participate in the study with Pittston, Avoca, Duryea, Hughestown and Laflin.Yatesville and Jenkins Township were also part of the pitch, but have not showed an interest.

Stern said the area comprises 26.3 square miles and has 26,000 people. It collectively cost $2.2 million for public safety in 2011, Stern said. The combined departments have 18 full-time and 66 part-time officers.

With rising costs and increased complexity of departments, elected officials now view consolidation as a way to solve problems associated with providing municipal police services. Lello noted consolidation of police departments is an option that many communities have explored for years.

Lengthy comments and questions from residents followed about the study, questioning the move of proceeding without the input of the residents and many raised concerns for the safety of the community. Knick stated that once the feasibility study is complete the borough will have a public meeting to report the findings.

We'll go by what you want, Knick told the audience. We're seeing what's better for Dupont with the current state of the economy.

In a separate issue, borough officials were in talks with Pittston City about having the city's department police Dupont, but the talks seem to be at a standstill.

A strongly-worded letter from a lawyer representing the Dupont Borough Police Officer's Association said any such action would have to be agreed upon by the department.

The current police contract expires at the end of December. Council on Tuesday hired Attorney Jim Valentine of Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald to represent the borough in labor relations issues.

The $816,816.62 spending plan contains no tax increase for residents. The tax rate will remain at 1.2235 mills. A mill is a $1 tax on each $1,000 of assessed property value.

All borough employees were given a 3 percent raise.

Council president and the mayor will be paid $150 per month; council members will receive $100 a month and the tax collector will be paid $2,500 per year.

Patricia McDonald, borough manager, said revenues include $542,428 in the general fund, $148,550 in the refuse fund, $66, 463 in the liquid fuels fund and $59,375 in the sewer maintenance fund.

Expenses include $251,906 in wages for borough employees, $20,000 in payroll tax, $16,565 for fire hydrants, $45,000 for street lights, $32,000 for insurance, $28,000 for workers compensation, $30,000 for payroll from the sewer fund, $45,000 for refuse and $26,000 for a paving loan. The fire department will receive $6,025.

In other business, council:

• Approved Jay Lokuta as tower for code violation enforcement and vehicle towing. Officials said there is currently a push underway to clear the borough of abandoned and nuisance vehicles.

• Extended the contract of McDonald for one year.

• The next regularly scheduled council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.

Dupont Correspondent Ann Marie Paddock contributed to this report

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