By Chadwick Dolgos
Stowe commissioners unanimously adopted a motion Jan. 12 to increase the starting wage for part-time police officers in the township from $15 to $18 an hour.
The decision comes after Officer Jonathan Short tendered his resignation with the department, effective Jan. 24.
He left for a full-time position with the neighboring Coraopolis department, where his full-time hire there was approved by council Jan. 13.
The Stowe department once had more part-time than full-time officers, but are now faced with the obstacle of attracting new part-timers to the force.
“We had six or seven full-time guys and we had like nine part-time officers,” said Chief of Police Matt Preininger. There are currently 10 officers employed by the Stowe department.
“We talked about raising the amount of money for Mr. Short because he was here for a certain amount of time,” said Commissioner Kelly Cropper-Hall during the Jan. 11 agenda meeting.
Short’s hourly increase to $18 had already been budgeted for in the township’s 2021 spending plan, but the starting wage for new hires remained at $15 an hour.
“I think that with what’s going on in today’s world, $18 is not enough, but that’s what we’re going to start out with,” said Commissioner’s President Robin Parilla.
“I don’t think $18 is a lot of money to put your life on the line,” Copper-Hall agreed.
The increased wage for part-time police officers made Jan. 12 allows the department wants to be more competitive in hiring new police officers.
According to Coraopolis Chief of Police Ronald Denbow, Coraopolis part-time police officers already start out at $18 an hour.
“Nobody wants to be a cop,” said Preininger, who has put out calls to surrounding departments seeking part-time workers.
“If we go back five years, we had no problems with part-timers,” said Parilla.
Township officials and Preininger are hopeful the starting wage increase will attract new part-time officers to the force, and are considering implementing annual incremental wage increases once the board has a better idea of what 2021 revenue will be.
“As far as increments, I don’t want to set an amount right now because we may be able to give them more at the end of next year, or we may have to give them less,” said Cropper-Hall.