East Franklin Township supervisors postponed making any decision about the future of their police department during last night’s meeting.
At the November meeting, Supervisor Chairman Barry Peters said a decision had to be made before the end of December and anticipated announcing the disposition at last night’s meeting. However, it didn’t happen.
Instead, Peters announced that contract negotiations are continuing with Police Chief William Evans, although he doesn’t expect ratification of a new contract before December 31.
Evans took medical leave earlier this fall. According to Peters, Evans had sufficient sick and personal time accrued and has continued on medical leave at the present time. Meanwhile, Peters said that Evans has continued to receive his salary the entire time, including being paid for holidays.
Peters said that Evans could possibly continue off work as long as into March 2019 before all of his sick days, vacation time, and personal days would be expended. He continues on the township payroll as per his contract.
Peters said Evans current contract began on January 1, 2015 and will expire on December 31, 2018. Township Secretary Deb Cornman said that the terms of the current contract will continue in force until a new contract is reached.
“When it happened before, we simply paid him the difference between the old contract amounts and the new one, making it retroactive to the end of the last contract,” Cornman said.
One local businessman was at the meeting last night and voiced his displeasure at the Township considering disbanding their police department. Todd Morris, owner of Morris Towing on Butler Road, said his business could be impacted if the State Police continue to patrol the Township.
“If you close this police department, I will lose money. The State Police is a rotational system. That means every third call, I get called. If the local police department calls, I get called if closest available, or the owner requests. If it goes that route, you are looking at longer response times, because there are times there are no state troopers on duty. That means your fire department is going to be sitting on the road longer trying to control traffic.”
Morris said he gets few services from the township as a resident.
“I’ve lived in this township my whole life. My business is in the township. The way I look at it, since I don’t get anything from this township – you don’t pave my road, you don’t pick my garbage up, you don’t plow my street – and now you want to close the police department. That’s the only thing I get.”
Morris felt there is a need for additional police presence throughout the township.
“If anything I think you should have more officers, not just one. You should have two or three.”
“It’s not a done deal either way,” Peters told Morris. “It’s in the lawyers’ hands, whatever they come up with.”
Evans said that he has not been contacted about a current offer on the table.