Macungie Council Provides for Fifth Police Officer in 2013 Budget
Council passes budget but not before a surprise reversal from Mayor Hoffman and a pointed exchange of words between the mayor and a council member.
Macungie Council on Monday passed the borough's 2013 budget that provides for no tax hike and the hiring of a fifth police officer to work 32 hours per week.
Christopher Becker, Gregory Hutchison, David Boyko, Joseph Sikorski and Debra Cope voted in favor.
Council President Jean Nagle and Linn Walker voted against the $2.2 million budget mainly due to the police issue.
As the discussion before the vote developed, Becker asked Mayor Rick Hoffman if he would still allow only 25 police shifts to be scheduled per week.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, Becker reported that months of budget discussions and workshops revolved around the fact that members of the Macungie Police Department will have surgery in 2013, and shifts will need to be filled.
Through it all, the mayor stuck by his 25-shift-per-week mandate. Becker referred to the entire issue as a "Pandora's Box."
Monday, however, when -- at the 11th hour -- Becker again asked Hoffman if he planned to stick by the mandate, Hoffman said he would agree to 27 shifts per week.
Becker was incensed. The mayor's easing of the mandate would have made a big difference in the difficulties council members were having trying to cover police shifts, he said.
"I am extremely offended," Becker told Hoffman, "This was discussed at every meeting we've had since September. We went with the 32-hour officer because every time we asked you [to ease the mandate] you said 'no.' "
Hoffman sounded offended, as well.
"You pledged to do what I said with no question, and you went around me," Hoffman said, referring to a written statement Becker read aloud at the first council meeting of 2012.
"I can't veto the [tax ordinance needed to support the budget] because there's no good reason. And I can't veto the budget. You went around me," Hoffman said.
As the discussion continued, Hutchison said he would not voted for a budget that meant he would have to agree to a fifth police officer. Cope reasoned with him, however, and told Hutchison it would be a good idea to pass the budget as presented and debate and possibly approve the hiring at a later date.