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Vandergrift police to get 4-year pact with raises

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 1:02 a.m.

Vandergrift police will start 2013 with a new four-year contract that provides yearly raises of about 2.5 percent.

Council President Brian Carricato on Monday said the agreement, which begins Jan. 1, also changes the health-insurance plan to one with lower premiums but higher deductibles.

The borough will pick up the cost of the deductibles, which will be $1,500 for a single person and $3,000 for family coverage.

The change is expected to save the borough money in the long run.

Council plans to switch over the borough's other employees to the higher-deductible plan as well; details were not yet available for the contract being finalized with public works employees.

Carricato said Municipal Employers Insurance Trust will continue to be the provider.

The planned retirement of Officer Peter King in September 2013 also was negotiated as part of the police contract, Carricato said.

Police Chief Joe Caporali said the department has seven full-time officers.

Vandergrift also employs eight part-time officers, including Jason Kerr, whom council agreed to hire Monday night. Part-time officers are paid $11.75 per hour, Caporali said.

Taxes same, garbage fee up

Council also approved Vandergrift's 2013 budget on Monday.

The $2 million spending plan holds property taxes at 28 mills.

However, it raises the refuse collection fee by $12 per year — an increase of about 5 percent.

Residents now will pay a total of $240 per year for garbage collection.

Council has said the increase will generate an additional $24,000 per year, which will cover about half of the cost of the anticipated increase in employee health-care expenses that are expected to rise even with the switch in benefits.

The budget also includes an additional $15,000 to help cover the cost of increased part-time police hours.

Money that Vandergrift receives from natural gas companies drilling on borough property will be used to help cover the additional police and health insurance costs.

Council agreed to borrow as much as $200,000 from First Commonwealth Bank in the form a tax-anticipation loan. The loans are commonly used by municipalities to cover expenses at the beginning of the year until tax revenue begins to arrive.

Solicitor Larry Loperfito said First Commonwealth offered an interest rate of 1.9 percent, the lowest of the four banks he queried.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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