PORT JEFFERSON — The Port Jefferson police chief and patrolmen will see and increase on their paychecks due to the passage of an ordiance Monday evening. The ordinance is effective immediately and is also retroactive for services rendered since Oct. 1, 2018.
Ae previous council meetings Mayor Steve Butterfield noted it was increasingly more difficult to find good prospects for patrolmen as part-time pay scales in Port Jefferson were substantially lower than average for the area which made it difficult to “attract good help and keep it.”
“Effective immediately, the police chief’s hourly pay will go from $13 to $14 with an increase of $1 per year until topping out at $17 per hour. Part-time patrolmen pay will go from $10 to $11 with a yearly increase of $1 per year until topping out at $15 per hour. These changes are necessary to help insure our village has the best police services available for the safety and security of all our residents,” Butterfield said.
In old business Butterfield reported the village police cruiser repairs were completed and maintenance and repairs on the village truck were completed as well. Butterfield said squirrels had built a nest under the hood of the police cruiser and chewed the belts and some wiring which left the car inoperable. Council had approved the option of repairing the village truck in a past meeting in preparation for snow removal this winter. Butterfield said the police car will no longer be parked at his residence, a practice that was adopted after the cruiser was vandalized in the past.
“The police cruiser will be parked at the village office from now on instead of my driveway, I feel the cruiser should be parked on village property when not in use,” Butterfield said.
After this report resident Don Fair who does the snow removal for the village asked if council intended to keep him on for the upcoming season and if it would be alright to keep the truck parked at his residence. Council noted there would be no changes and Fair would continue his duties if he chose to do so. As for where the truck would be parked Councilman Tim Smith said he felt the truck should be parked at the village office on village property when not in use.
Councilman David Clem said ultimately the decision rested in the hands of the council and he felt it seemed reasonable to let Fair keep the truck parked at his house due to the fact he usually starts the truck at about 4 a.m. in preparing to plow snow.
“It’s up to council to decide what to do here; I agree the truck should be parked on village property when not in use in good weather but it seems logical and reasonable to park the truck at Don’s house when bad weather is expected. Don is the one who will have to get up at four in the morning in the cold, nasty weather and get things ready to go and a little consideration for is in order here; I don’t feel it is unreasonable to make his job a little easier by leaving the truck parked at his house for convenience and safety’s sake,” Clem said.
Prior to taking a vote on the issue, Butterfield asked council to consider appointing a non-salaried “street commissioner” to manage affairs associated with reporting street maintenance issues to the street department employees and directing their services. Butterfield recommended appointing Police Chief Mark Bell to the position with a six-moth probationary period, which was approved
Butterfield then asked council to reconsider the discussion about where the village truck should be parked and suggested it now be put to a vote; three council members voted for keeping the truck parked on village property and three against it. Before the vote is was determined that Butterfield would cast the tie-breaking vote if needed but when faced with the tie he instead abstained from voting and said he would refer the issue to the newly-appointed street commissioner and get his approval either way.
Councilman Tim Smith asked whether or not repairs had been made to a portion of South Elm Street west of the 47 Bar and Grill. Butterfield said the repairs were not complete yet but he would contact the county soon about buying some hot-mix to patch to holes before cold weather set in.
Fair asked about the legality of residents using an alternative trash collection service other than that designated by council. Butterfield said he received reports of at least two residents using Republic Services of Bellefontaine instead of Rumpke Waste and Recycling who is contracted for waste removal.
“Any resident using someone other than Rumpke is in violation as well as those providing the service unless it is a commercial account; violators are subject to a fine if found to be non-compliant,” Butterfield said.
Ernie Jones, pastor of the New life Church in Port Jefferson, asked if the village would consider co-sponsoring the upcoming Christmas party on Dec. 8 by providing the Community Center rental fee as a donation. Jones said the event will take place from noon until 3 p.m. and is supported by volunteers from New Life Church, Spring Creek Christian Church and the Port Jefferson Church of Christ and several others.
“The Christmas party is open to the public and will feature Santa and treats for the kids, food, music, and caroling. There will be games, prizes, fun and fellowship for all who attend,” Jones said.
Council approved Jones’ request.
Council’s next meeting will take be Dec. 3, 2018 at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.