New Castle News

December 7, 2012

City Council looking at police staffing proposal

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A staff restructuring of the New Castle police department will save the city money, according to police chief Bobby Salem.

The chief unveiled his proposal to city council at a budget workshop last night.

Councilman William Panella initially questioned the plan, saying he objected to the creation of a third lieutenant position.

Expressing concern that the plan will increase costs for the city, Panella said, “I just don’t believe we have the money for more promotions.”

The plan also increases the number of corporals, for example, from two to five.

Panella said the biggest complaint he receives from people is that they don’t see police on the street.

Council president MaryAnne Gavrile added that people don’t see them because more officers work daylight.

Salem responded, “You’ll have more visibility with this restructuring.”

He said there would be seven officers on each shift. Salem said the plan will save the city $166 next year.

In question is the possibility that a patrolman could be promoted to corporal, costing an additional $14,000. Business administrator Stephanie Dean said the proposed budget “reflects the worse case scenario.”

After Salem’s explanation, all council members indicated support.

Panella said after the meeting, “As long as it doesn’t cost any money, I’m satisfied.”

Under the plan, one lieutenant will head the patrol division, another criminal investigation and the third administrative operations, which will include central booking, public relations and training.

Panella also expressed opposition to having two employees in the department of community and economic development.

Mayor Anthony Mastrangelo’s proposed budget calls for the hiring of an economic development director as required in the city’s Act 47 recovery plan. The director would head a restructured department that would include code enforcement and zoning and planning as well as community and economic development.

The plan basically proposes a more structured, ambitious effort to promote economic development

The salary for the director’s position is budgeted at $70,000. A second position of community development coordinator would pay $50,000. The mayor warned that if the coordinator’s position is eliminated, “I’ll close the department.”

“I just don’t want to spend $70,000 and another $50,000,” Panella said.

Mastrangelo said, “I need more than one person.”

Gavrile said to Panella that she agrees in part with him.

“But we’re reducing a salary by $20,000.”

The reference was to Tammi Gibson, who is currently the director, but would ostensibly be the coordinator if someone else is selected to head the department. She is the only employee in the department. “You have to have worker bees under the director,” she said.

Councilman Thomas Smith recommended that since the city outsourced some work in the treasurer’s office that those employees could help with paperwork. He said he believes the current employee could do the job “with the proper support staff.”

Councilman Richard Beshero said if the salary would be lowered any more, “we may lose that person.”

(Email: jmanna @ncnewsonline.com)