Ellwood City mayor dispels rumors about police salary

Ellwood City police department

Ellwood City's ranking police officer takes a six-figure gross income since at least 2018.

Now, Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court wants to dispel rumors about Lt. David Kingston's salary.

"I've heard various rumors by individuals of why Lt. Kingston gets overtime, but this is just ignoring the fact of why there is overtime," Court said. "If they take the time to learn why, they would become educated on the overtime factors."

For nearly 20 years, Kingston's income has been a hot-button issue in the borough when it was revealed he was the top-paid borough employee in 2001.

"Lt. Kingston worked just about every overtime detail when offered to him," Court said. "Just because Lt. Kingston is the beneficiary of officers using unanticipated leave doesn't mean there is any merit to rumors."

In 2018, Lt. Kingston, who has been with the department for 36 years, earned $115,288.45 with $40,533.45 coming from overtime. His base salary that year was $74,755.

In 2019, Kingston earned $133,321.94 with $56,694.94 coming from overtime. His base salary that year was $76,627.

In the first six months of 2020, Kingston earned approximately $74,509.76 with $33,728.76 coming from overtime. His base salary this year — a leap year — is $81,652.

According to the borough's finance department, the only way to determine how much money Kingston was being paid per hour would be to examine every time card he has submitted since 2018 because there are different hourly rates depending on the time of day and what the officer is doing.

There are 144 possible overtime rates from 2018 through 2020.

Both he and Kingston monitor schedules weekly, Court said, to try and control overtime the best they can within the constraints of the union's collective bargaining agreement.

Kingston also receives $110 for every year he's been with the department — also called longevity. In 2020, he will receive an additional $3,960 from longevity.

Although Kingston has the highest seniority, Court said, "It has been falsely stated all overtime goes to the senior officer. This is not factual. Numerous factors go into the equation."

Although schedules for full-time officers is set in stone, Court said, the main reason for overtime costs are due to unanticipated time off officers take on short notice for sick, vacation or personal reasons.

"In a police department, you will always have overtime due to incident related calls, off-duty court appearances, working at minimum staffing, part-time officer availability, uncontrolled leave time and provisions in the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that make overtime unavoidable."

Court lobbied with Ellwood City Borough Council to hire more part-time officers as well as fill vacancies. A part-time officer has recently been hired pending hiring clearances, he said.

"It’s not easy, but we're managing," he said.

Since 2010, arrests in the borough have been on a steady decline.

The borough made an average of 289 arrests from 2010 to 2018 while an average of 417 arrests were made between 2000 and 2009, according to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting system (UCR).

Ellwood reported 192 arrests in 2018 — a majority of which were drug-related, according to UCR.

mbasileo@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Maria Basileo covers the City of New Castle's government, Act 47 and Union and Shenango school boards. Email her at mbasileo@ncnewsonline.com.

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