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Oakmont council, chief debate need for more officers

| Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, 12:36 a.m.

Oakmont Council members went back and forth with the police chief Monday night over the importance of putting more officers on the borough's streets.

Oakmont police Chief David R. DiSanti Sr. asked for the 2013 budget year to add about $40,000 for more part-time police officers, higher fuel costs and possible raises.

Council budgeted $110,000 for part-time officers.

DiSanti said he would ideally like to add an eighth full-time officer to the force, but would compromise by adding part-time hours to keep three officers on duty during the Monday through Friday day shift.

In addition, DiSanti asked to promote two officers to sergeant, which includes a pay increase.

A new police contract is in arbitration.

In 2010, the department spent $110,000 on part-time officers and $152,000 in 2011. This year, it will be about $130,000.

Councilman Tim Favo suggested that there was too much supervision during the day shift.

“We went from having a working chief to a supervising chief,” he said.

“I work hard every day,” DiSanti said. “It's insulting if you're saying I'm not a working chief.”

Favo said he would like to see the budget stay even in the police department, instead of increasing incrementally over the years.

The chief told council he would not recommend reducing the number of officers on shifts to save money, because of the effect it could have on public safety.

Mayor Robert J. Fescemyer sided with the chief.

“We're just doing our job,” he said. “It seems strange that we're always the ones who have to explain ourselves.”

Favo suggested that the department could sell the police motorcycle, which required $900 in repairs in 2012, and could bring in $20,000 if sold.

The chief was against that idea, as was the mayor.

“It's a great public relations tool,” Fescemyer said.

The entire police budget is about $1.2 million. Council will vote on a preliminary budget Monday.

“Everyone is for public safety,” Council President Timothy Milberger said. “We've got choices to make.”

Council looked at other places in the balance to the budget, which sports an $80,000 deficit.

Nearly all the organizations the borough supports have come under scrutiny, including the fire department, library and the Boulevard Project.

Milberger said that the borough is trying to avoid a tax hike.

Kate Wilcox is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media. Comments regarding this story should be sent to vndcity@tribweb.com or 724-226-4666.

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