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Residents question Aspinwall council about spending on parking ticket enforcement

Tawnya Panizzi
| Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, 9:45 a.m.
Aspinwall police SUVs at the municipal building along Commercial Avenue.
Tribune-Review
Aspinwall police SUVs at the municipal building along Commercial Avenue.

Aspinwall council came under fire last week after residents questioned what they called unnecessary spending.

Council recently approved a 20-hour weekday shift for a part-time police officer to write parking tickets. The officer is paid $18 an hour. Funding the shift will cost $18,720 a year.

“Why is there an officer being paid to do that when we have (the chief) and a full-time officer on duty?” resident Gene Marsico said.

Mayor Joe Giuffre said the move was recommended by the public safety committee and revenue earned from parking tickets will be weighed against the part-time salary to determine the benefits, he said.

Resident Mike Troyan asked why patrolling parking meters wouldn't fall under the duties of the chief and full-time officer who work the day shift.

“You would save a lot of money if you made the two officers on duty work,” resident Lou Curcio Jr. said.

The part-time shift was created to determine if an additional employee dedicated to parking enforcement was beneficial, according to Public Safety Chairman Tim McLaughlin.

He and other council members declined to say why the full-timers on the force could not also be responsible for parking patrol.

“There was no clear job description compiled when the chief was hired,” Giuffre said. “For whatever reason, that was never done.”

The answer didn't sit well with Councilwoman Ann Marsico.

“There is a contract that outlines the chief's duties,” she said. “It specifically states that he must be a working chief and that means getting out and patrolling the community.”

Resident Gary Britcher said it shouldn't come down to a definition.

“The chief is an employee of the borough,” Britcher said. “You tell him what he needs to do.”

McLaughlin said the move appears to makes sense because it allows the chief and his full-time officer to focus on policing the community. If it doesn't pan out, the schedule will be adjusted, he said.

He hopes to provide a progress report during council's regular meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 8.

Chief David Caplan was not at the meeting but said the part-time position was requested by the public safety committee in conjunction with the mayors' authority to enforce traffic ordinances and borough code regulations.

“We viewed this as a good way to address some of the parking and traffic complaints,” Caplan said. “In addition to the financial sensibility of this, it gives the police more of a presence in the community.”

Caplan said that even if the value of the move is measured only from a financial point of view, the borough still benefits.

The part time officer, on average, generates at least four times the amount that it costs the borough for the salary, he said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2.

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