The South Williamsport Borough Council voted to transfer the police department authority from the mayor to the borough manager Monday, also making Steven Cappelli, the manager, the director of Public Safety.
Six South Williamsport officers, Daniel Boyd, Seth Stropp, Gareck Esposito, Jacob Summers, Devin Thompson and Sergeant Jim Taylor came to discuss their concerns with the resolution.
“We have some concerns about this movement by council,” Taylor said.
He also spoke about the major concern regarding what impact the move would have on current Police Chief Carl Finnerty.
“Our (the officers present) more immediate concerns are as to why this is being done and how it relates to the chief of police,” he said. “We are deeply concerned that this is part of an effort to remove Carl Finnerty from the position of chief of police. We completely support him in the role of chief of police. We urge you to support Carl Finnerty as chief and to keep him in the position. We ask you to consider, carefully, the impact that these two resolutions will have on the department and the borough.”
He elaborated on council’s authority to appoint, remove and suspend officers while the mayor had other authorities, including helping the department function in way that offers checks and balances to separate the two entities.
“Our concern, generally speaking, is that this eliminates the separation of powers and eliminates checks and balances in the borough code,” he said.
After the officers spoke, the resolution to transfer the police department authority to Cappelli ended in a 6-2 vote. Henry Frey Jr., Hilarie German, John Decker, Cory Lehman, Daniel Copp and David Geise voted yes. Robert Cronin and Carl Nolan voted no. The resolution to make Cappelli the new Public Safety Director ended in a 7-1 vote with Frey Jr., German, Decker, Lehman, Copp, Geise and Nolan voting yes and Cronin voting no.
In other business, the borough discussed a motion to merge the South Side Recreation Authority with Duboistown and Armstrong Township.
Cronin and Lehman relayed many questions to both Cappelli and Joseph Orso II, solicitor, regarding what the borough would do if one of the joining townships were to leave the authority.
“I’m concerned about the possible outcome,” Cronin said.
Geise explained that a majority of the money needed for possible land-owning projects will be grant funded.
“The whole thing will be grant driven,” he said.
Cronin and Lehman voted no to all three motions, including authorizing the authority, approving an agreement with the authority and the Articles of Incorporation for the authority, while members Frey Jr., German, Decker, Copp, Geise and Nolan voted yes.
At the next borough meeting, the borough will elect three people to be apart of the authority. For more information, locals can speak to Cappelli or Geise.
In another matter, the borough unanimously approved an application for $500,000 for a home program grant for properties with code violations in the borough.
Cappelli stated that it is the “largest grant to date” and that there are about 10 to 12 homes on the waiting list for the program.
In borough business, the Trick-or-Treat hours will be on Oct. 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Before the meeting came to a close, Orso stated that the borough was heading into an executive session regarding personnel matters.
Frey Jr., Nolan, German, Copp, Geise, Cronin, Lehman and Decker were present.
The next South Williamsport Borough Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 at the borough building at 329 Southern Avenue, in South Williamsport.