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Brackenridge to hire more part-time police officers

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 1:56 a.m.

Brackenridge Council has agreed to hire more part-time police officers in an attempt to keep down police overtime costs.

Councilman John Stanzione suggested boosting the department's current roster of four part-timers after reviewing police expenses so far this year with Mayor Tom Kish and Chief Jamie Bock.

Stanzione said the current part-time officers often aren't available when called upon, meaning full-time officers are working overtime to cover shifts.

Stanzione said that means the borough is paying upward of $38 per hour for overtime pay compared to $12.50 per hour for a part-time officer's regular wages.

“It's a no-brainer,” Stanzione said.

Stanzione said six candidates submitted applications after the borough advertised for police officers earlier this year.

He received permission from council to hire qualified part-timers as needed; no officers were hired Thursday.

Councilwoman Mary Lou Poli, who questioned whether additional officers would give the borough any more availability than the current part-timers, was opposed.

Stanzione acknowledged that having a larger roster of officers won't necessarily eliminate the problem since they may not be guaranteeing any part-timers a lot of hours.

“It doesn't hurt to try,” he said.

Stanzione said he is seeking officers who already have certifications and equipment, which will cut down on the borough's costs. He said the only cost should be having the new part-timers team up with experienced officers for their initial shifts as they get accustomed to the borough.

“I'm not saying we need to have 10 part-time officers,” Stanzione said. “But we need to have ones who can give us hours.”

Borough reviews demolition options

Borough Solicitor Craig Alexander reviewed council's options for demolishing dilapidated houses.

With fewer state grants available, Alexander said the burden to raze houses would fall on the borough, at least initially.

He said council would need to schedule a public hearing and give owners of targeted properties an opportunity to defend their properties' condition.

If council goes forward with condemnation, the borough would pay for the demolition, then could file liens against the property in hopes of recouping the cost once the property sells.

Council also could seek to return abandoned properties to the tax rolls by having a tax-claim sale, which would forgive any liens or debt filed against the property in exchange for a new owner taking over and paying taxes, Alexander said.

A sale would require approval of the Highlands School Board.

“It's not a cheap process,” Alexander said.

Council did not indicate any immediate intention to condemn or demolish any specific properties.

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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