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Carroll Valley hikes pay to entice police officers | Local News

With a new pay scale for police officers, Carroll Valley Borough may soon start to make headway filling vacancies.

It has been nearly ten months since the last officer resigned, borough council noted at its meeting last week.

“Nothing the chief has been able to do has solved our problem of hiring someone,” council President Richard Mathews said.

A committee assembled to review police hiring practices recommended changes to help bring the department back to full strength.

After reviewing pay rates in other area municipal police departments, Carroll Valley was found to be considerably less for both starting police officer’s salaries, as well as officers coming in with several years of experience, Mathews said.

Not only was it determined that Carroll Valley’s starting salary was uncompetitively low, but the pay for officers with three to four years of service was $20,000 to $30,000 below their peers in neighboring departments, according to a letter submitted to the council by the committee.

The group not only recommended a change to patrol officer’s pay, but also advised further study to evaluate the fairness of pay to current officers to encourage retention.

The committee recommended $70,000 annually for a patrol officer’s starting salary with a three-year contract guarantee of $85,000. The salary range is negotiable depending upon the qualifications and experience of the selectee, Mathews said.

Although self-described as “pro-police as anybody can be,” Robert Verderaime, council member, opposed the salary increase.

Verderaime voiced apprehension, saying based on the number and nature of calls for service, he is reluctant to foist the cost of hiring another full-time officer onto the taxpayers.

Despite Verderaime’s objection, based on the committee’s recommendation, the council authorized Carroll Valley Police Chief Richard Hileman II to advertise at the new salary.

Hileman was satisfied with the action designed to address police vacancy and bring on new officers.

“I think we’re in a good shape to have a good shot at it,” he said.

The council also approved the purchase of a new projector for Movies in the Park events.

The borough is looking to enhance the experiences of viewing outdoor movies throughout the summer at Carroll Valley Park.

One of the most popular park events hosted by the borough is the free summertime screenings, which draw in crowds of 40 to 60 people each time, Assistant Borough Manager Gayle Marthers said.

“I love our program,” she said.

The only complaint ever received from the evening screenings has been movie-goers are unable to see the screen because of ambient light before it gets completely dark, said Marthers.

Although grateful for the efforts that made the current projector possible, it is technically not the right projector needed for showing movies in the park, she said.

While a new projector will not be the fanciest on the market, the borough is currently utilizing an ill-equipped projector with only 2,500 lumens, “which is a very, very low number,” she said.

Marthers discovered average large venue projectors are 7,000 lumens at an estimated cost of $10,000-$15,000.

Estimating the number of usages the projector sees in a year, Verderaime questioned if it would be more economically feasible to lease a top-of-the-line projector rather than purchase a projector.

Councilmember L. Michael Wight noted the bulbs and machines are built to last for years, while leasing is designed to charge more money right away.

As a budgeted item for 2022, the council approved the purchase of a Panasonic PT-MZ680WU7 Protech Projector System with 6,000 lumens for $7,139.

More information about borough events can be found on the Carroll Valley Parks and Recreation Facebook page.

With the weather getting warmer, council discussed limits to vacation rentals and recreation vehicles.

In a memo to the council, Borough Manager David Hazlett raised concerns regarding vacation rentals being permitted only as a special exception in several zoning districts.

As such, anyone who wants to engage in a short-term rental must go before the zoning hearing board, he said. Hazlett asked council to allow staff to prepare a revision to the ordinance, to reclassify a short-term rental as a conditional use rather than an exception, which would only require a hearing before the borough council, thereby eliminating the $1,000 loss each time a zoning hearing is required.

Hazlett also noted the requirements for trailers may be a tad strict, noting the current ordinance reads the storage of one recreational vehicle, trailer, or boat is permitted, with the storage of a second vehicle permitted only if the gross lot size is equal or greater than two acres, and only allowed in the side or rear yard.

Hazlett queried whether it was really the borough’s intention to limit homeowners to having only one total of the aforementioned vehicles.

The council instructed staff to bring alternative recommendations for the two issues before council at its July session.

The Carroll Valley Borough Council will next meet July 12 at 7 pm

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