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South Hills

Baldwin Borough council passes 2018 budget

| Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

Baldwin Borough council passed its $12.39 million budget for 2018 at its regular meeting Dec. 19 and reassured residents there will not be a tax increase.

The tax rate will remain at 6.28 mills for 2018. Each mill generates $750,000 for the borough.

Council also agreed to hire to two new police officers to fill vacancies lost through attrition. A senior patrolman in Baldwin Borough, which has 22 officers, makes an average of $87,037.

The hirings, however, were not unanimous. For the last 12 years, Baldwin Borough police officer Tom Hobart has been working with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, while his salary has been paid by the borough. Even though the borough receives some reimbursement for Hobart's services, the municipality is still losing money, said John Barrett, borough manager.

During his stint with the government, Hobart has been paid roughly $500,000, but the borough has only received $400,000 in return, he said.

“He should be brought back to serve us,” said Councilman Ken Fischer, who voted against hiring an extra officer.

“This is not a smart fiduciary move.”

Michael Stelmasczyk, council president, said he has spoken with other municipalities who have had police officers assigned to the DEA. In most cases, he said, the move is only temporary and none have as been as long as Hobart's stint.

“If anyone ran a business like this, they would be bankrupt,” said Stelmasczyk, who voted against hiring two officers. “We don't need a second officer. The need is not there.”

While she voted to hire both officers, council person Marianne Conley said she spoke with county District Attorney Stephen Zappala about having an officer on loan for more than a decade to the DEA.

“He was kind of stunned we would want to pull an officer out with the opioid epidemic that is going on,” she said.

“Then the DA can put up the money for this,” Stelmasczyk said. “It is the length of time.”

Councilman Francis Scott, who also voted against the hiring of the additional officer, said it was doubtful that Stephen Zappala was aware of the borough finances.

Suzanne Elliott is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at selliott@tribweb.com or 412-871-2346.

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