In East Cocalico, a changing of the police guard

By on November 24, 2015

 

Police action was the order of the day at the Nov. 19 meeting of the East Cocalico Township supervisors.

One police officer was recalled from furlough and Police Chief George Beever announced his intent to retire, effective Dec. 31.

Supervisors accepted his resignation letter “with regret.”

“Replacing the chief will take some time,” said Supervisor Chairman Doug Mackley, when asked whether supervisors would stay in-house or go outside to find a new chief. “We have no plans for the process we’ll use.”

Officer John Appleton III corresponded that he’d accept the recall from furlough and work for the East Cocalico Police Department after Dec. 31, 2015. Appleton was one of three officers furloughed when Adamstown and West Cocalico Township contracted police services from Ephrata Borough instead of continuing with East Cocalico Township Police. Following a veteran officer’s resignation, supervisors invited the most senior officer furloughed to return.

Beever’s letter stated that he’ll use some accumulated leave time, and his last day at work will be Dec. 11. He continually was challenged with adding more officers and equipment while balancing budgets and schedules. A total of 19 officers increased the force over Beever’s 31 years of service. The 17-officer department will shrink to 14 officers Jan. 1 when the Adamstown and West Cocalico contracts end.

West Cocalico Township and Adamstown ceased contracting with East Cocalico, citing their reluctance to help pay the unfunded police pension expenses. East Cocalico supervisors countered on the unfairness of West Cocalico and Adamstown not paying expenses incurred by all four municipalities as officers were added to service a larger area.

Mackley announced that “the budget will be ready for public viewing at the township office, and be on the Web site, Wednesday morning, Nov. 25. We’re not quite ready to release it yet as we have a few tweaks to make.”

When asked, Mackley said the total budget would be “similar to last year (which was approximately $5.2 million) and would not include a tax increase. A person with a $100,000 home would still pay $205 in real estate tax.”

In other business:

* No bids were received for the seven-acre tract of land at 1975 N. Reading Road, owned jointly by all four Cocalico municipalities. The law requires re-advertising, and supervisors agreed to do this in a Lancaster daily paper for several days for two consecutive weeks. Township Manager Mark Hiester said if no bids are received following the second advertised timeline, the township may proceed and deal directly with any interested party.

* Supervisors appointed Ralph Buckles, 741 Reinholds Road, to the planning commission to complete the late Ken Sweitzer’s term ending in 2018. Buckles is a professional estimator with an architectural firm.

* Dr. Ken McCrea asked why the draft Oct. 15 meeting minutes did not “adequately reflect the 15- to 20-minute discussion of supervisor benefits.” McCrea felt the information about $90,000-plus in health benefits for the three supervisors had “substance,” meriting a more specific explanation.

Draft minutes, which supervisors adopted, stated: “Public Comment: Mr. Mitchell stated he is concerned about his taxes, and wants to avoid a tax increase. The Board noted they will know more in late November as the proposed budget is near completion. Discussions continued.” Mackley and other supervisors commented on summarizing and brevity in minutes being preferred to eight or nine pages of a meeting recitation. Reproduction and paper costs were also cited.

* Zoning Officer Tony Luongo reported 16 new single family dwellings for 2015 and 10 false alarms in October. Four property owners received final inspection notices for Use and Occupancy Permits still needed. Luongo continues dealing with a property’s storm water run-off difficulties, monitors multiple expansion projects and works with the sewer enforcement officer on earth disturbance related to an on-lot sewage system.

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