RENOVO - Borough Council and Mayor Donald Pagnotto remain on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to opinions on the effectiveness of local police.
In May, council and members of the gallery alleged a lack of sufficient work, among other issues, by Renovo police. But a partial resolution apparently resulted, with Pagnotto agreeing to allow the police committee to develop officers' work schedule. The mayor did stipulate that he could re-take control of the work schedule whenever he wished.
Pagnotto tried to exercise that option as he passed out a letter to council at Wednesday nights council meeting, saying he "delegates the schedule of the Renovo Police Department to the Chief of Police, effective June 1."
Further, Pagnotto said he "did not appreciate the unconstitutional motions in (council) trying to supersede the law contained in the borough code book."
Neither his decision to allow police officers to set their own hours, nor the use of the word "unconstitutional" sat well with the rest of council.
Councilman Mark Campbell asked the mayor repeatedly why he wanted to take the schedule back from the police committee.
Councilman Kevin Dwyer peppered Mayor Pagnotto with questions about why the committee's task was unconstitutional, saying that is a rather heavy allegation to make.
Pagnotto never answered any specific questions, but said he believes the police department can make the schedule work better on its own.
The letter was eventually disregarded by council in a unanimous decision, saying the letter delegates the schedule responsibility to the "chief of police," but the department does not have a chief. The department is down to two officers, Sgt. Tom Bruno and part time Officer Steve Bruno.
But that did not bring the matter to an end, as council expressed concern that police officers are not fullfilling their duties, from making arrests to enforcing parking and ordinance violations.
"There needs to be significant improvement in that department," council President Randy Bibey insisted.
Also in May, council had cut police hours from around 72 hours a week to 68.
Following an executive session Wednesday, the 68 hours was knocked down to 56 a week, where presumably Sgt. Bruno would still get 40 hours, while Steve would get the remaining 16.
Council also agreed advertise to hire two more part-time officers.
In another matter, council decided to temporarily close Ninth Street Park, effective immediately, saying the damaged trees in the park are a serious safety concern. Council will look to have the trees removed, but in the meantime, the Summer Recreation Program will move to the 16th Street Park until the situation is remedied.
And, council agreed to buy a Caterpillar generator for $27,865 for the water pump station. The old generator is beyond repair and, if the town were to lose electricity, the generator is used to supply water.