Oakmont officials approve part-time police pay hike of 38%
Oakmont officials approved a 38% pay raise for part-time police in order to retain existing officers and entice new applicants.
Borough Manager Scott Fodi said the starting wage for a new officer will go from $16.16 per hour to $22 per hour.
Current part-timers who worked at least six months in the borough may see their pay go beyond the new benchmark as well.
“We’re not getting enough part-timers, and full-time costs are fairly high,” said George Coulter, councilman and public works chairman. “I think we made the right call.”
Mayor Chris Whaley said the police union still needs to approve the move. Council voted on the payroll change Monday.
“The wages of part-time officers are subject to collective bargaining and would have to be discussed with the police bargaining unit before any changes are made,” Whaley said via email. “Those conversations have not occurred.”
Whaley, who’s talked about officers leaving the borough for full-time jobs faster than they can find new ones, believes part-timers are underpaid statewide.
“Any increase in wage would (be) well earned,” Whaley said. “I do not believe a wage increase addresses the shortage of officers, but may make Oakmont more attractive to draw part-time officers from neighboring municipalities.”
Oakmont Police Department has seven full-time officers including Chief Michael Ford, and less than a dozen part-timers.
Whaley said 17 shifts are covered by part-timers, so he would like to see the borough hire two more full-time officers.
Fodi said it’s a challenge to keep people in today’s economy.
“All part-timers are looking for that opportunity to go full time,” Fodi said. “You can’t begrudge them the opportunity to get a full-time job in a career they want to be in.”
Councilman Tim Favo said the officer pay increase was budgeted for this year.
The borough’s the latest community to consider a part-time pay raise for officers.
Tarentum officials are pondering a 16% jump from $15.50 per hour to $18.
Harmar raised its pay from $14 to $19 — a 36% increase — to make the job more appealing.
The borough’s also considering waiving a Civil Service testing fee to help get more applicants.
The pay raise was one of two police-related moves unanimously approved by council this month.
Council authorized the purchase of a 2020 Ford Police Interceptor from Shults Ford at a cost of about $35,000. It will replace a 2015 Ford Explorer.
“We want them to have good vehicles running in the community and we want them to be reliable,” Coulter said. “The chief and the police department figure out when they need things, and we’re trying to support them.”
The department will continue to have four marked patrol vehicles and two police patrol bikes.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter .