Macungie Council voted at its Jan. 21 meeting to allow Police Chief Edward Harry to hire another officer who will work a 30-hour week -- almost four 8-hour shifts -- as per the current police collective bargaining agreement.
Money for the hiring was provided in the 2013 budget, but at the time council voted on the budget member Gregory Hutchison said he was not in favor of the hiring. He wasn't any more in favor at the recent meeting.
"I said I would put money in the budget for it, not that I would vote for [hiring a part-time officer]. I still won't," Hutchison said.
Council President Christopher Becker explained the Macungie Police Department's necessity: several full-time officers need time off for medical purposes and someone to cover the shifts is needed.
The added officer will have limited medical benefits and no pension, Becker said before deferring to Mayor Rick Hoffman.
Hoffman had mandated throughout 2012 that there would be no more than 25 police shifts scheduled per week. At the end of the year he raised that limit to 27 shifts due to the upcoming medical absences.
What the mayor could not understand is how boroughs of similar size -- Pen Argyl and Alburtis to be specific -- can provide 24/7 police coverage for their boroughs with only four full-time officers.
He did not know how many shifts are scheduled in either borough, however, nor how many part-time officers are used.
Becker called for a short executive session before council voted on the issue in the hope of avoiding any further legal troubles, and when council reconvened to vote Hutchison asked for a roll call vote.
Council members Hutchison, Jean Nagle and Linn Walker voted against the hiring. Members David Boyko, Joseph Sikorski and Debra Cope voted in favor. Becker broke the tie with his "yes" vote.
Chief Harry said he has someone in mind for the job and will present the candidate's name to council very soon.