At Monday’s first monthly meeting in the new downtown City Hall, Lebanon City Council unanimously approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the union representing city police officers.

The contract between the city and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 42 will run through 2024.

A focus of the new contract is attracting more police officers. According to Mayor Sherry Capello, the city’s budget allows for 41, but the department currently has just 35.

“Our goal is to meet budget for the number of officers employed,” the mayor said in an email to LebTown.

With that in mind, the starting annual salary for a new officer will go from $49,300 to $57,000. The mayor said her survey of police departments in the region showed that most started new officers at that amount or more.

Officers with two and three years of service will be paid $59,450 and $62,801, respectively. Officers with more experience will receive 3% annual increases.

The city will add a premium of 50 cents per hour to officers who are fluent in a second language “that meets the operational needs of the city,” according to Capello. For now, the mayor said that would be Spanish and Arabic.

The city and the union have also agreed to a one-year trial of 12-hour shifts once the officer shortage is eliminated. The move will allow four day work weeks and give every officer one three-day weekend off every month.

The labor agreement also provides for increases in employee contributions to insurance co-payments and deductibles and a reduction in sick days, while adding an “opt-out payment” for officers who don’t participate in the city’s insurance plan.

In other business, the mayor announced that the city has awarded $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to 19 city nonprofit organizations.

A three person committee reviewed 46 grant applications.

The committee looked for proposals that would address mental and physical health, help the city’s young people, veterans, and homeless, or have a physical impact on the city.

The committee also “looked at the organization itself and whether or not that organization had the capacity to run the program and how it would be sustained in future years, not just in the first year,” Capello noted.

The two largest awards went to Lebanon County Christian Ministries Fresh Start, $160,600, and the Lebanon County Youth Advocate Program, $153,650.

Recipients will be required to sign a contract agreeing to comply with all American Rescue Plan requirements.

Other business before City Council

  • The mayor reported that, through April 30, with the fiscal year 33% complete, city revenues were at 52% of budget projections, and expenditures at 25%.
  • Quentin Road resident Sandra Dissinger told council that runoff from her neighbors’ properties was damaging her fences, and that another neighbor was putting yard waste in her unmarked driveway. Capello said that the city was aware of her complaints and would work with Dissinger and her neighbors to reach a solution.
  • Weidman Street resident Norman Tobias observed that trash and litter on streets and sidewalks seemed to be getting worse, and suggested that the city work with city schools to educate children on what happens to litter they throw in the street. Capello noted that the city in the past had worked with the school district to educate students on the environmental impacts of littering and the benefits of recycling.

Next City Council Meetings

City Council’s next pre-council planning meeting will be on Thursday, June 23, at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m.

Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in the City Hall multi-purpose room, 735 Cumberland St., first floor, Lebanon.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...