Category: Manor Township

Supervisors Contemplate Fire Department Billing Option

Manor Township volunteer firefighters hope to one day replace their 21-year-old aerial truck, but will have a difficult time with ever-increasing equipment costs. (KP File Photo).

Manor Township volunteer firefighters hope to one day replace their 21-year-old aerial truck, but will have a difficult time with ever-increasing equipment costs. (KP File Photo).

by Jonathan Weaver

With expenses continuing to climb in the Manor Township fire department, township supervisors will seek legal counsel’s advice on an added billing option.

Supervisors will consult with their solicitor on whether to allow local volunteer fire fighters to bill insurance agencies for emergency fire response, as is the practice of other regional municipalities.

Some of these municipalities include Murrysville Borough and several in the Lehigh Valley (in Southeastern Pennsylvania).

Officials estimate it requires about $250,000 per year to operate the fire department, and while local taxpayers subsidize expenses through a mill of taxes annually, firefighters are still required to fundraise and depend on fire hall rentals.

Last year, according to a document submitted by Fire Department First Lieutenant and Treasurer John Breski, the fire department received about $46,500. A majority of that (more than $13,700) went toward miscellaneous truck expenses, and more than $9,000 each went toward the fire hall along Byron Street and the new engine.

Fire Chief Chad Evans said fire fighters have considered raising money for a new aerial truck, but costs have skyrocketed to $800,000. The current aerial truck has been in service since 1995.

“Bare bones – six wheels and a ladder,” Chief Evans emphasized. “Right now, fire apparatus (costs) are (rising) about 25 percent every year.

“When there are only two engine manufacturers, they can charge you whatever they want to charge.”

Local Resident Larry Cecchi – a former fire department volunteer himself – understood the need for updated fire equipment, but cautioned supervisors.

“You can give your entire budget to them, and they’ll ask for more,” Cecchi said. “Want, want, want – I want everything too, but I can’t get it.”

Supervisor Chair Paul Rearick also wanted to hear a legal opinion before a final vote.
“Insurance companies aren’t going to lower your insurance if you don’t bill it,” Rearick said. “It results in higher premiums to the homeowners.”

Manor Township Fire Company responded to more than a dozen emergencies in November – eight of those including vehicle accidents.

The Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute has a model ordinance on their website, including three example levels of collectable fees.

The billing procedure even received State support last year, with both state legislators and state Fire Commissioner Timothy Solobay commenting in a December 2015 public hearing before the matter is scheduled for vote.

After no changes were made to the tentative budget, supervisors adopted the 2017 funding plan unanimously – including continuing to support the fire department through a mill of tax revenue.

Resumes Being Accepted for Full-Time Police Chief in Manor Township

Manor Township's newest police car could also have the township's first full-time police chief behind the wheel come January if supervisors receive the right candidate (KP File Photo).

Manor Township’s newest police car could also have the township’s first full-time police chief behind the wheel come January if supervisors receive the right candidate (KP File Photo).

by Jonathan Weaver

Along with increasing police hours in 2017 and potentially adding more personnel to the force, Manor Township could also name its first full-time police chief.

Following an executive session, supervisors Paul Rearick, Don Palmer and Robert Southworth unanimously agreed to start accepting applications for the full-time position.

“I love the direction this police department is going in right now. Everything’s working great – professionalism is here,” Rearick said. “I want to continue that, and I think now might be the time prior to the January meeting.

“I think that will not only show a commitment to the residents, but also to the (police officers). We’re moving forward and trying to upgrade. They’re doing their job.”

Supervisors also pondered advertising for a full-time chief in February.

More than $150,000 is budgeted for public safety in the proposed 2017 budget – including a five-year high designated for police officers’ salary.

Resumes are currently being accepted by Manor Township police personnel until the end of the day today. Resumes from outside officials will be accepted until December 13.

“We don’t have to hire if we don’t think there’s an appropriate applicant,” Rearick added.

If a full-time police chief is hired, they will be eligible for insurance coverage but not overtime.

While supervisors primarily agreed, they revealed their thoughts to current part-time police chief Michael Karabin first. Chief Karabin has been with the department a reported-25 years, with Police Sergeant Terry Bish an officer for 20 years.

“We’re not terminating anyone – we’re just moving our department forward,” Rearick added.

With Manor Township scheduling more than 500 duty hours in January, a full-time police chief could amass 40 of the 125 hours per week and the rest could be up to 10 part-time police officers.

With those extra hours in the department’s six-figure annual budget, Sergeant Bish and Police Corporal Eric Petrosky will also apply for a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant through the U.S. Department of Justice.

According to the grant parameters, funding would be provided for most of a full time officer’s salary during the course of three years.

Supervisors set the advertised full-time police chief wage at $37,500.

Manor Township Purchasing New Snow Equipment

Manor Township supervisors Robert Southworth and Chair Paul Rearick look over proposed design ideas to welcome motorists into the municipality.

Manor Township supervisors Robert Southworth and Chair Paul Rearick look over proposed design ideas to welcome motorists into the municipality.

by Jonathan Weaver

Manor Township road workers will have a new piece of apparatus for the 2017-18 winter season.

After the recommendation of supervisor/road foreman Robert Southworth, the trio of supervisors agreed to finance for a 2017 International.

Southworth explained the truck would be purchased through Hunter Truck Sales – which has locations in Butler and in the Pittsburgh area – but will be taken to Walsh Equipment in Prospect (Butler County) for stainless steel work.

“We buy the truck from a dealer (Hunters Truck Sales) and then (Walsh Equipment) picks it up and takes it to the bed place,” Southworth said. “(Walsh Equipment) will take care of us.”

After an increased-initial payment due to the five year financing agreement with FNB Commercial Leasing, supervisors will pay roughly $27,000 per year for the snow equipment to cover interest and the total $128,600 apparatus.

Supervisors have not yet determined the funding source for the new truck – whether funds come via capital reserves, liquid fuels or possibly Act 13 Marcellus Shale impact fee dollars.

Prices were made through the state cooperative purchasing program, COSTARS.

Purchasing new equipment was the top priority on Southworth’s five-year plan.

“We’re not adding – we’re replacing,” Southworth said.

He explained the current 2006 General Motors truck is rusting, contains hard-to-replace parts and has an internal combustion engine.

Southworth initially proposed purchasing two new trucks, but supervisors decided the overall expense, which would have exceeded $250,000, was too much at the present time and might impact future tax rates or investments.

“I just don’t know if we can afford two right now,” Supervisor Chair Paul Rearick said.

The current 2006 truck would eventually be advertised for sale, with the proceeds – expected to be at least $10,000 – going toward the

The 2017 International – which Southworth hopes will be put to use for as long as 25 years – is expected to be delivered by June.

Supervisors are also still paying off a tractor.