By NICOLE E. MATTHEWS
Special to the Advocate
Marietta Mayor Harold Kulman told the Marietta Borough Council that attorneys continue to review the Susquehanna Regional Police Department merger agreement between East Donegal Township, Conoy Township and Marietta Borough. Kulman said the agreement should be ready shortly.
Susquehanna Regional Police Chief Ed Haugh had been acting as interim police chief while a search was being held to find a full time chief. He will now remain as the official chief, but works part time, about 30 hours per week.
“Right now we have a part time chief operating the department, and we do save money doing it. But there’s also the factor of the service that we get for the part time … even though you’re saving money, we’re trying to look into being more effective and being able to get a full time chief in the department,” Kulman said at the meeting on Tuesday, July 9.
There was also debate about the Marietta Pioneer Fire Company’s usage of fire tax funds, which, according to the agreement between the borough and the fire department, are to be used for operating expenses.
Councilor Robert Shambaugh said he met with fire officials recently to talk about improving transparency between council and the fire department.
“We’re not on the same page on what are considered operating expenses,”Shambaugh said. “At the end of the year last year, they had $26,000 left over from operating expenses, which normally goes into their fire truck fund, but instead, they decided to use that money to pay to remodel their kitchen in the fire house and also to buy some lights. And they wanted to call that operating expenses, and I said, ‘We’re probably going to bang heads on that, because I don’t think we consider that operating expenses.’” Council President Glen Mazis said the problem is the fire company needs to work with council to prioritize operating expenses.
Councilors said they have been told repeatedly by the fire department the most pressing financial concern is setting aside money for a new tanker truck.
“Putting in a new kitchen is part of an operating expense, because they have to raise their own money, in addition to our money,” Kulman said. “They have to have a facility to serve food to people they sell it to.”
Because there was opposition from residents at the time the fire tax was instituted, council decided to invite the fire department to speak to them ahead of the budget about purchasing concerns.
The council also reminded citizens police are enforcing fireworks being set off at least 150 feet from a building.
The next meeting of the Marietta Borough Council is scheduled for at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 111 E. Market St., Marietta