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Baldwin Police Addition Could Upset Boro Budget

Borough Manager Barrett has made adjustments to balance Baldwin's 2013 budget, but police Chief Scott says that he needs another officer.

Baldwin Borough Manager John Barrett and the Baldwin Council have erased an initial for 2013 after Barrett has made cost-cutting and revenue-producing suggestions to the council during special budget meetings this fall, including one on Tuesday night.

But Barrett and the borough councilmen will have to become more resourceful if they are to approve Baldwin police Chief Michael Scott's request to add another patrol officer to his staff. Scott made that request on Tuesday, and Barrett said that the potential new hire would mean an additional approximately $70,695 per year in borough spending, including things like health insurance for the officer.

Chief Scott argued that, often, his department is only able to deploy three total patrol officers at one time in what he calls Baldwin's four police zones—north Baldwin, south Baldwin, the Route 51 corridor and The Residences of South Hills apartments complex.

Scott said that, since some officers are off of work for periods of time for things such as family medical leave, vacation, et al., it often becomes difficult to find appropriate levels of staffing while keeping overtime pay to a minimum. He also said that certain situations arise that require pulling officers away from their normal patrols.

"Any serious calls that come up, any backup that's needed for officers," Scott said, "one or two of the other officers from the other zones have to be there to cover them."

Scott said that, even if his department were to consider the borough as having only three zones (the Residences complex excluded), it is still difficult to have reliable service in each zone given the department's current staffing level.

"We have things that happen every day," Scott said. "We're running short because we're trying to cover this whole borough with one person in each section of the borough. It just doesn't work."

Councilman Michael Stelmasczyk pointed out that the borough's leaders have increased police spending recently for supervisory positions like sergeants and lieutenants, but Scott said that those expenses do not increase the department's roster size.

"The supervisors are also functioning as patrol officers," Scott said.

Countered Stelmasczyk, "You guys keep taking a bite every time. I just feel like I was not told the truth last year when we made these administrative changes. I was assured that we did not need the people."

But Scott and Mayor Alexander R. Bennett Jr. denied claiming, in preparation for the 2012 budget, that the department did not need more staff.

Councilman Larry Brown said that the confusion may come from the absence of an officer on long-term leave whom Baldwin police thought would be rejoining the force for 2012. It appears now that that officer will not return, causing a continued shortage in staffing.

"We'll be sitting here next year (having this same conversation)," Stelmasczyk said. "I can almost guarantee it."

Said Brown, "I can't believe that, with a community of 20,000, we're operating four districts with three patrol officers. Now, where does that serve public safety?"

Said Councilman John Ferris, "Where does that make sense?"

"It doesn't," Brown said.

Barrett has been adding revenue and decreasing expenses after seeing the borough's initial $1-million-plus shortfall for 2013. After Tuesday's meeting, he has made recommendations that range from instituting a 105-percent adjustment of a revenue-neutral millage rate to trimming thousands of dollars off of borough expenses like solid waste collection, fire vehicle fuel allocation, code enforcement, parks maintenance and others.

In fact, after dropping the borough's 2013 shortfall down to , Barrett's further-adjusted budget for the council on Tuesday night actually showed a $5,696 surplus. But that number does not factor in the new hire that Scott is asking for.

Stelmasczyk requested that, should the hiring of another officer be approved, other police items should be considered for cost-cutting.

The borough's next budget meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. in the council chambers of the borough municipal building along Churchview Avenue. The meeting is open to the public, and should circumstances dictate, it would be moved to the municipal auditorium of the same building.

Public Works Director Mark Stephenson is expected to argue for another employee, as well, at the Oct. 23 meeting. Stephenson's potential new hire, Barrett said, would mean an additional approximately $52,000 per year in borough spending, including benefits.

Before the end of the year, the Baldwin Council must approve or reject Scott's and Stephenson's requests in line with approving a balanced 2013 budget. (UPDATE: Stephenson is no longer expected to ask for another Public Works employee.)

Click here for more Baldwin Borough news.

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NE12Ukid October 11, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Public Works Director Mark Stephenson is expected to argue for another employee, as well, at the Oct. 23 meeting. I'd ask him why they need five men to do crack sealing. One was driving, one applying the sealant, one tossing gravel over the sealant, and two walking along with them doing nothing.
Sandra October 11, 2012 at 02:08 PM
@ NE12Ukid, Is the crack sealing job a union job? That might explain it.
Adam October 11, 2012 at 04:40 PM
How about if the officers spend more time on Community Policing instead of doing traffic details all day long on certain roads around the area. That will drive the crime rate down instead of going up as is stands right now. They are driving crime rates up themselves. Also they don’t need to back the Whitehall Police and other surrounding boroughs all the time. Does Chief still think that he works for the City of Pittsburgh and their overblown budget?
bd October 11, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Adam - Great points. I think you are correct because I see a lot of Baldwin Borough's police backing up other communities and I do not see the the opposite occurring. I know this will never happen but I think we taxpayers are all being taken for a ride. Each community has it's own police force and highly-paid police chiefs. These same communities also have agreements to back each other up if they are short-handed. I am not saying that is wrong, but in reality this becomes a kind of south hills area police force without the cost savings. If these boroughs would truly merge into one force as they did in the North Hills, our south hills communities could save a bundle on reduced administrative costs. But isn't simply easier for the Baldwin Borough Chief and Mayor to just always ask for more?
NE12Ukid October 11, 2012 at 05:24 PM
If those Boro workers are unionized, more power to 'em, but if they have enough men on shift to have two just taking a walk alongside the workers, they don't need to hire another guy. (or woman)
NB resident October 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Well I know you guys are mad about hiring a new officer, but I hope they hire me, I would love this job
Robert Edward Healy, III October 24, 2012 at 10:24 PM
UPDATE: Stephenson is no longer expected to ask for another Public Works employee.
cc November 14, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Whitehall Police is always backing up Baldwin Police as their police are always out busting DUI's. I was at a friends home the other night when their was a domestic situation going on on Charlotte over the weekend and only Whitehall Police showed up when it was in Baldwin Borough.
NE12Ukid November 18, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Hi NB resident, Have you completed the academy, or do you have police experience with another municipality?
Jon Wain November 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM
cc keep quiet or whitehall council will want ot charge baldwin police like they do brentwood fire co.
NB resident November 18, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Hey NE12Ukid, Yes I have the academy and have been a police officer for 5 years now, would love to chance to work where I grew up.
NorthBaldwinTransplant November 19, 2012 at 12:14 AM
Would any of you LOSERS take the job of a police officer and risk your life, give up weekends, holidays, etc. ...... NB Resident, this does not include you, as you have obviously been there and done that. Do any of you LOSERS want to walk into a domestic with angry, possibly gun wielding people, alone? Do you want to go into a home where the parents are fighting over the kids .... each one pulling an arm .. ALONE? Do you want to go into a house where a possible suicide occured, ALONE? When you do, you can have something to say. Until then, keep your mouth SHUT aho.
NB resident November 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM
LOL
NE12Ukid November 19, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Best of luck to you!
NE12Ukid November 19, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Most of us support and respect our law enforcement personnel. cc just complains about school lunches, firemen, police, school board, you name it as she repeats over and over how she sees these drug deals in Baldwin on Brownsville "up by Brentwood" and claims she called and the Baldwin police did not do anything because they were too busy nailing DUIs. Of course Brownsville "up by Brentwood" is not part of Baldwin. She ignores that fact.
NB resident November 19, 2012 at 01:32 AM
thanks NE12Ukid
cc November 19, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Jon police are different then fireman, paid vs non paid. Brentwood doesn't have enough fireman to do the day shift and our borough workers leave their jobs (were paying for the time though our taxes for work) not to go to Brentwood. Brentwood since they can't get volunteers should go to paid fireman. Baldwin also responds to Brentwood. Baldwin Township Fire Dept and Castle Shannon joined forces together when Baldwin Township couldn't get enough volunteers.
cc November 19, 2012 at 02:06 PM
NorthBaldwinTransplant, police officers are not LOSERS as you put it. They are hard working people ne12ukid keep my name out of your comments your an idiot that is so friggin childish that you stalk me all over the patch. Doesn't your welfare payments give you enough money to do things other than being a bitter old shim with all your made up names on here. You also do a lot of complaining about everything and think you are always right. You can't even respond to articles without cutting sentences out of articles to paste together to make yourself seem smart but are actually a stupid person as many of people have said about you. Gave up on your ml name when you were slammed pretty bad by others with your garbage
cc November 19, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Idiot ne12ukid, where I was at was in Baldwin, not Brentwood and the Baldwin police responded after 2 hours. Others have complained to get a Baldwin officer at their home it takes hours as they are to busy with dui's
joe momma May 03, 2013 at 03:41 PM
MAN I BET YOU CAN STICK OVER A THOUSAND OF THEM NERF DARTS TO THERE CHROME DOMES

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