Long ‘to-do’ list remains for Cheswick, Springdale Township police merger
The Allegheny Valley Regional Police Commission still has a lot of work ahead of it after meeting for the first time Tuesday night.
The four-member commission is made up of Cheswick Council members Michael Girardi and Kathy Gillard, Springdale Township Commissioner Shirley Redman and township resident Rick Schwartz. They are in charge of making all of the decisions for the new police force that will combine the two municipalities’ existing police departments.
The commission selected Redman to serve as chairwoman and Girardi to serve as vice chairman. They also voted to make Mike Naviglia interim chief at a rate of $25 per hour with no benefits.
Naviglia already serves as chief of the township’s department and as interim chief in Cheswick. Commissioners said they don’t expect Naviglia to serve many hours as interim chief of the new department — it will be on an as-needed basis at future meetings so he can give input.
He will continue to be paid his normal salaries from each municipality for his work with each of the existing departments, which still operate as separate entities.
The commission hopes the regional department will start operating on July 1.
A permanent chief will be selected later. Girardi said the police merger commissioners are not required to advertise for the position.
Commissioners also decided how they would break a tie since it is a four-person board.
In such an event, one person from a designated municipality would abstain from voting. The municipality will alternate on a year-to-year basis, with one commissioner from Cheswick to sit out any tied votes over the next 12 months and one from Springdale Township to sit out ties the year after that.
The commission was limited in decisions it could make Tuesday because it doesn’t yet have a solicitor to provide legal guidance and Naviglia is on vacation.
A long to-do list remains, including decisions about the new department’s budget, staffing, logo design, day-to-day administrative functions, pensions, insurance and facilities.
Tuesday’s meeting was recessed until 7 p.m. May 7, when commissioners hope to have a solicitor and secretary/treasurer in place so they can move forward. That meeting will be held at the township building, 100 Plate Drive.
“I think it was certainly a unique experience,” Girardi said of the first meeting.
All of the commissioners agreed they are learning as they go since the board is so new and they are making decisions they’ve never had to deal with before.
Only two citizens attended the meeting. Township resident JoAnne Kiley said she’s always been in favor of the merger and was interested to hear what the commission had to say.
“We all want to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “We have to save money anywhere we can.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .