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Why does borough pay solicitor so much?: Letter to the Editor

Posted 8/2/17

On Dec. 31, 2012, the contract with the Middletown Borough Police Association employed by Middletown Borough ended. Contract negotiations had already started but eventually ended and were taken to …

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Why does borough pay solicitor so much?: Letter to the Editor

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On Dec. 31, 2012, the contract with the Middletown Borough Police Association employed by Middletown Borough ended. Contract negotiations had already started but eventually ended and were taken to arbitration.

An arbitrator did rule and submitted his ruling after having a hearing on Feb. 7, 2013.

Upon receiving the contract, the borough of Middletown took the position that upon receiving the arbitration award that it was just a guideline for us now to negotiate a contract. To date, the contract has not been ratified and the clause concerning the health insurance has never been honored.

From the arbitration ruling after the first two years of the four-year contract/arbitration, two sections were to be renegotiated. This included wages and health insurance. Middletown Borough Police Association has tried to negotiate in good faith on the reopener of the contract. We are now also in negotiations for the entire contract having been now past four years from the contract that the arbitrator ruled on.

Again, we have tried to negotiate a contract in good faith, with no resolution, and it appears that we will again be going to arbitration.

In order to start to prepare for arbitration Right to Know requests have been sent to the borough. However, they are not willing to supply items requested that should be given in most cases openly and without cost. The reason this was done was to be able to appeal to the state if needed for items that should be part of open records. Middletown Borough has taken the position of charging the Police Association for the information that has been requested.

One of the Right to Know requests was for the amount of money paid to McNees, Wallace and Nurick, the firm hired as the Middletown borough solicitor. The request was for the amount paid to the firm starting for the year 2012 to the year 2016. The borough did provide the information requested and it showed that over a five-year period $1,793,236.11 was paid to the firm.

With this information, the question was asked what do other municipalities pay for solicitors. Right to Know requests were sent for the same years to Hummelstown, Highspire, Steelton, Lower Swatara Township, and Swatara Township. The requests were all granted and forwarded to the police association for the same years that were requested for Middletown borough solicitor. Only one municipality charges for the information requested at a cost of $3.50.

The members of the Middletown Borough Police Association found the information that was provided very unsettling. Hummelstown Borough submitted a cost of $72,577.59, Highspire Borough submitted $163,153.12, Steelton Borough submitted 129,233.98, Lower Swatara Township submitted $347,687.86, and Swatara Township submitted $513,206.76. In some of the requests there was also an explanation on why the solicitor fees were higher in some years than others. This was due in part because of bond issues and other events that impacted their community.

When adding the totals for all of the municipalities we came up with a total of $1,225,859.31.

Middletown Borough spent $56,7376.80 more than all five municipalities together during the same time period.

Mark Hovan, Scott Yoder, Dennis Morris, Mark Laudenslager, Jeff Weaver, Jim Bennett, Chris Miller, Wade Bloom, Gary Rux, Tyler Zehring, Adam Tankersley, George Miller, Juan Castro, Rebecca Hulstine, Scott Tantlinger and Hyung Kim

Middletown Borough Police Association

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