Furloughed officers still on job
SHAMOKIN - The city's furloughed police officers are still on the job, at least for the time being.
Cpl. Jarrod Scandle and Patrolman Nathan Rhodes both were on duty Wednesday, New Year's Day, when the furloughs were to begin, Police Chief Edward Griffiths confirmed. They were both on duty Thursday, too, as was special officer Robert Searls.
Neither they nor special officer Norm Lukoskie received any official paperwork or notification from City Hall regarding the furloughs, according to several city officials. While the street department contract calls for such notification, the police union contract does not, Mayor-elect William Milbrand said. However, as a courtesy, the two weeks were also extended to the police officers, he said, which could also buy time towards finding a way to keep them on the job.
Until that paperwork arrives, Griffiths will keep them on schedule.
Outgoing Mayor George Rozinskie Jr. said that it could take at least another business day or perhaps two before official notice is given.
Griffiths would be fine if the paperwork is never processed.
"That's what I'm hoping," Griffiths said Thursday.
Timing seems to have also played a role given that the furloughs were announced two days before Christmas. The human resources specialist as well as the police chief were both on scheduled vacations during the holidays, and the city clerk remains on medical leave.
It's expected that after new city council reorganizes on Monday, the new city council will reopen the 2014 budget in an attempt to keep the affected employees on the job. Milbrand is scheduled to travel to Harrisburg today to speak with officials from the Department of Community and Economic Development about Shamokin's finances.
The furloughs were reluctantly approved on a split vote by city council on Dec. 23 allowing for the adoption of a balanced $2.5 million operating budget for 2014. It came as a deficit of more than $616,000 was erased mostly through spending cuts.
Along with the four officers, street department employee Ronald Kerstetter was also laid off. He has received official notification which, per the department union's contract, serves as two weeks notice before the furlough takes effect later this month, department foreman Kevin Richardson confirmed.