A new contract puts Union Township's police department in the crossfire of two warring politicians.
Outgoing supervisor Steve Galizia calls the six-year pact a fair agreement.
"Those wage increases are consistent with the last three contracts," Galizia said at Nov. 15's supervisors meeting.
Incoming supervisor Clair Damon sees the move as a vendetta.
"There is case law that this is illegal," Damon responded. "I have a problem being locked in for six years."
During a special meeting Nov. 14 morning, the supervisors extended the police department's contract through 2011. Galizia and Supervisor Pat Angiolelli voted yes; Supervisor Kevin Guinaugh, no.
"We can't even negotiate and change," Guinaugh said. "We're here to defend the citizens and their money."
Damon is threatening to file a lawsuit against the township over the vote. He argued that when the new board -- he, Angiolelli and Guinaugh -- is installed, it will be bound by a last-minute contract. That action goes against public policy, he said.
"Obviously you didn't talk to your solicitor before voting."
Damon and audience members pelted Galizia with questions ranging from the contract's origin to the amount of the raises.
Galizia said he had received the police union's contract offer on Oct. 14. He then forwarded the proposal to Angiolelli and Guinaugh.
"It was a pretty cut-and-dried request," Galizia said.
Chief Joseph Lombardo's pay increases also came under scrutiny. Lombardo is the department's lone full-time employee. There are four part-time officers.
Lombardo, whose 2005 salary is $36,000, will see consecutive increases of $2,000 a year or 96 cents an hour through 2011. In the last year of the contract, he will earn $48,000. Overall, the contract increases Lombardo's earnings by approximately 33 percent.
When contacted Nov. 15, Lombardo declined comment.
On Nov. 14, Galizia and Angiolelli said raises over the life of the contract will average 50 cents per hour each year. All other terms, they added, remain the same.
Guinaugh argued the new board should have reviewed and approved the contract extension. He expressed frustration over the matter.
"I don't understand how it came about," he said. "I think it's ridiculous."
Ultimately, the contract dispute highlights the contentious issue involving the handling of Union finances.
"He's going to have this township broke," an audience member said of Galizia. "I'm not stupid."
Galizia countered that the supervisors have acted fiscally responsibly.
"I'm not going to sit there and listen to (Damon) tell me that I don't know how to manage a township," he said after the meeting.
Saying the 2006 budget will be passed with no tax increase, he explained, "There's money budgeted for everything we've done and everything that we will do 'til the end of the year.
"If (the budget is) properly managed, it will do fine."