Franklin Council removes police officers' raises from agenda

Fraternal Order of Police lodge to continue grievance against borough

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Franklin police chief Eugene McInerney made a rare trip to the dais at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting to voice his displeasure with the meeting agenda.

Two agenda items called for a vote to amend the status of patrol officers and give them their contractually obligated step raise. In response to his concerns, the council removed the items from the agenda.

One item was to elevate officer Robert VanderPloeg's status to permanent at Step One and the second was to upgrade Patrolman Jesse Babcock from Step 2 to 3 on June 28.

The first speaker during open public session, McInerney read a short prepared statement as both the police chief and a “concerned taxpayer” of the borough.

Having those items on the agenda is “improper” and “a direct violation of the collective bargaining agreement” the officers have with the town, McInerney said. He strongly suggested the governing body remove the items from the agenda or “seek legal advice” as he promised legal repercussions if the matters came to a vote.

In his administrator’s report, Jim Kilduff brought up the grievance the Fraternal Order of Police lodge had filed with the borough due to the dispute. A letter from F.O.P. Senior Field Representative Danny Schick Sr. to Mayor Paul Crowley and Kilduff details how the first-ever inclusion of a contractual raise on the agenda comes at a suspicious time, as one of the officers in question ticketed a friend of Kilduff’s son outside of his home and was the arresting officer of a councilman’s father on a domestic violence charge.

Later in public session, resident Donna Arrigo brought up a concern stemming from the recent attitudes of Councilmen Fred Babcock and David Fanale and their effect on such a vote. Fanale is well known to dislike police personnel, and Babcock was recently quoted as saying “that’s why I hate you guys” to an officer responding to an incident at a family member’s house.

“If there is a vote, it’s not fair if they take part in it,” Arrigo said.

Borough Attorney John Ursin brought some light to the situation.

“The procedures for step raises for contractual employees have fallen through the cracks,” he told the council, advising them that some formal action needed to be taken.

In the end, Councilman Nick Giordano made a motion that the step raises be taken off the agenda and approved privately by Kilduff based on a recommendation from the chief. The motion passed 3-1. Councilmen Babcock and Snyder abstained and Fanale voted no.

According to F.O.P Lodge #57 president Nevin Mattessich, the decision should not be the administrator’s to make as it is contractually obligated.

“We’re going to continue the grievance until they cease and desist,” he said.

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