by Jonathan Weaver
Kittanning Borough Policeman will be patrolling the municipality in a new Ford soon.
Borough Council voted 8-0 to buy a new Ford Taurus Interceptor at a price of about $33,000, including department graphics. The vehicle will be purchased utilizing the COSTARS program.
There are three vehicles in the police department’s fleet – two 2007 Crown Victoria’s and a 2013 Ford Taurus -, Police Chief Bruce Mathews explained.
The vehicle replaced would be a blue unmarked 2007 Crown Victoria with 113,000 miles on it.
“We’re looking at substantial repair bills here in the near future, judging on shifts in the transmission and other parts dealing with the suspension,” Chief Mathews said.
Just transmission and dash light repairs were estimated at $3,600.
“We’re so close to the end of the service life for that vehicle, whether we want to or not, at this point it’s prudent to say ‘at what point do we stop putting money into this?’” Chief Mathews said. “With two repairs under $4,000, I think it is time to look at that, and spend what money we do have wisely.”
The 2013 Ford is utilized 24 hours a day, and already has 47,000 miles on it.
“At the end of the year, we’ll be at 75,000 (miles) with repair bills coming on that,” Chief Mathews said. “Then, we’ll have three vehicles we need to replace. The purchase of a new vehicle at this time would offset that and stretch that vehicle to an even-longer service life.”
Borough Council President Randy Cloak said the 2015 budget had $30,000 earmarked for a new police car.
“I would rather not spend $32,000 this year, but moving forward, we need to do that,” Cloak said. “I think it’s of utmost importance – we need to be proud that Kittanning maintains a full-time 24/7 police force. It’s our responsibility to make sure they have the equipment necessary to do the job.
Another special account will be opened for a police vehicle next year as well to allow for a new purchase every two years.
It would have been only $1,500 less for the new Ford Taurus to be unmarked.
The Ford vehicle would also enable local repairs and service as necessary, Chief Mathews said. A General Motors vehicle was considered, but orders for that police vehicle stopped in December.
After an executive session, Borough Council also voted unanimously to reinstate Sewage Authority/Assistant Secretary Kelly Painter, pending a meeting with Personnel Committee members and Solicitor Ty Heller.
Councilwoman Kim Fox made the motion, and it was approved 6-2. Councilman Wilbur Stitt – also a Personnel Committee member – seconded the motion. The meeting has not been scheduled yet.
Painter, a more-than 30 year employee, had been of good standing with Borough Council before her latest absence during the last five weeks, Cloak said. In her interim, Borough Secretary Betty Thompson performed her duties.
Cloak would not further divulge the reasoning for her absence.
First Ward Council members Betsy Wilt and David Croyle opposed the action. They declined to discuss why they declined after the meeting due to the personnel issue.
Legal and personnel matters – including Painter’s reinstatement – were discussed at the executive session with Heller.
Other Borough secretaries will be notified of Painter’s return.
The process for the Borough to take control of the local Sewage Authority is also continuing, Cloak said.