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Valley News Dispatch

Apollo Council reverses decisions to eliminate borough manager post, hire a police officer

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, 11:21 p.m.

Apollo Council has rescinded plans to eliminate the borough manager’s job and hire a new, full-time police officer.

But property owners are still going to have to dig a little deeper to pay their 2019 real estate taxes.

Council voted 7-0 Thursday night to adopt a preliminary, $512,000 budget.

It calls for a 3-mill tax hike from 11.65 mills to 14.65 mills.

That’s a tax increase of 26 percent.

An earlier budget plan that was never voted on had the tax increase at 6 mills — a 51 percent hike.

For a home assessed at $20,000 in Apollo, it means the homeowner will pay $293 in real estate tax next year, which is an additional $60.

Of the 3-mill tax hike, 1.5 mills will be set aside in a separate fund for street improvements while the other 1.5 mills will go toward the general fund.

The borough for a number of years has had 0.75-mill dedicated to the library. That assessment will remain.

Council cancelled its Dec. 13 meeting and instead will take a final budget vote on Dec. 17.

During an extensive and sometimes heated comment period before a standing-room-only crowd in a former elementary school classroom, many echoed support for Borough Manager Cynthia McDermott and questioned the need for another police officer.

Council did not say whether officials would bring McDermott back to the position.

Former Councilman David Heffernan asked the that vote on a new police officer be rescinded, nullifying last week’s 3-2 vote.

“You need all council members present,” Heffernan said. “You’ve got to do it right.”

Resident Bonnie Matthews praised McDermott.

“You get rid of her, this place will fall apart,” Matthews said. “I’m all for the 6 mills (increase), but it better be for the roads.”

Resident Dave Wilmot asked council to consolidate the police department with nearby North Apollo and Kiski Township, which already share police services.

Wilmot cited occasions where the Kiski Township police have to come through Apollo while answering a call in North Apollo.

The vote to rescind the elimination of the borough manager’s position was 4-3. President John Kautz, Vice President Diane Bradshaw, Dylan Foster and Dennis Gabrielli voted to rescind eliminating the position.

Ashley Stiffey, John Steele and Nancy Walker voted to, in effect, eliminate the position.

Bradshaw then moved to rescind hiring a full-time police officer “due to budgetary reasons.”

All council members voted in favor; Stiffey abstained.

Resignations accepted

Council accepted the resignation of Solicitor Timothy Miller, auditor Joe Estermeyer and meter enforcement officer Ronald Bash.

“I want to thank everybody for the last four years,” Miller said. “I think this council does a great job of helping make this borough better.”

Miller indicated he would help in the transition to a new solicitor, which Apollo hopes to hire by Dec. 31.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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