WELLSBORO - In a split vote Monday, with Councilman Mike Wood voting against, borough council voted 4-1 to hire a new full-time police officer, making Wellsboro a six-man police force, according to borough Manager Dan Strausser.
Voting in favor of the additional officer were Joan Hart, Terry Bryant, John Sticklin and John Wheeler.
Councilman Ron Bowers did not attend the meeting.
"The mayor (Jim Daugherty) and chief (Jim Bodine) requested it and after council reviewed the increase of arrests and traffic citations through the year, they felt it was necessary," Strausser said.
The starting salary for new officer will be $41,000 per year with benefits.
Though there hasn't been a jump in crime, it has "steadily increased," he added.
Bodine will give a full report on the year's statistics during council's meeting the second week in January, Strausser said.
As for a timeline on when the new officer will come on board, Strausser said it likely will be early next year.
In related business, council also voted to remove any part-time officers still on the rolls but who don't work anymore, he said.
In other business, council awarded a five-year trash collection contract to Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority for $1.274 million for the entire contract period.
"It starts at $240,000 per year and increases by 3 percent each year," Strausser said.
The new service will replace the borough's trash collection service and is expected to save the borough at least $60,000 per year in the form of fuel and truck maintenance, and will free up the two employees formerly collecting the trash to do other things in the borough.
No layoffs will result, Strausser added.
Charges for trash collection will stay the same, at $11.50 per month with a four-bag limit, he said.
The household trash pick-up days may change and there will be no household trash pick-up on Monday. The business schedule will remain the same, he added.
In a second split vote, council approved a resolution to take property for a bridge replacement project on King Street, this time with Bryant casting the sole negative vote.
The ordinance will acquire a perpetual easement on property of Richard F. and Mary Katherine
Black and also Murat Cady and Daniel Kent Natirboff, trustees of the Cody Natirboff Trust who refused to sign off on the easement, necessitated the borough's action, Strausser said.
The borough had been unable to agree with the owners on a price to be paid for damage to the property.
The cost of the project is $900,000 with the borough responsible for 5 percent, or around $45,000 and the balance paid with federal and state funds, Srausser added.
In other matters, Strausser said the interior of the borough's new office building on Crafton Street is being demolished to renovate it into borough offices and council chambers.