AVOCA — Council members approved the 2016 budget at their monthly meeting on Thursday.
The budget stands at $947,330 with a 2.3 mill rate. A mill is $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value.
The budget calls for no tax increase as well as no increase in sewer fees.
Council members also approved the motion to hire Jim Halford as a third full-time police officer to begin on Jan. 1. He undergo a 90-day probation period before benefits kick in.
The Avoca Police Department currently has two full-time police officers, Chief Dave Homschek and Sgt. Jerry Kudajeski. The decision to bring on a third officer, council President John Boone said, was because of the difficulty for part-time officers to commit to serving Avoca.
“We’ve been looking at it for a while now,” said Boone. “It’s becoming more difficult to get part-timers to fill a month’s worth of scheduling. And we also provide police service to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre International Airport, so a lot of officers are taking hours up there. It was just a way for us to fill the weekly schedules and give the chief a variation in the scheduling.”
Council members rehired the following part-time police officers at an hourly rate of $12.25 for the first quarter of 2016 — Mario Scotti, Johnathan Alaimo, Louis Taroli, Sheri Salvo, William Dubiak, Rudy Navarro, Nick Lohman, Vince Zerblas, Mike Rosemellia, Robert Marmo, Kenneth Salvo, Ryan Kachinsky, Matt Fredmonski, Patrick Zippitelli, Ed Weidow, George Brazdzionis, Mark Stillwagon, Robert Callahan, Joel Tiru, John Baiera, Stefanie Aversa, Jeremy J. Jones, Randy Schlatter and Tabitha Bronsburg.
While the borough often rehires numerous part-time officers, Boone said he does not forsee a drastic change in the amount rehired every quarter because of the addition of a new full-time officer.
In other business, council members also approved the motions to:
• Set dates and times for regular monthly meetings in 2016 to be held at 6:30 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month beginning with a work session and the regular meeting taking place right afterwards.
• Renew expiring insurance policies for general liability, automobile, property, equipment and terrorism.
• Pay the total amount of $4,894.90 in regard to the new municipal building with $1,645 going to PennEastern Engineers, $1,215 to AirCon Service Co. and $2,034.90 to LH Reed & Sons.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher