Resident William Brion asked the supervisors about a recent decision to give Police Chief Doug Clark two bonuses each year of $12,000, bringing his total salary to $78,000 per year.
In return, Clark was to sign a non-competitive agreement stipulating he will not leave Lawrence Township to work for another department within 50 miles for the next eight years.
Brion questioned the decision, asking how Clark had earned the bonus when he hasn’t been with the department very long.
He also questioned where the township got the money and also pointed out that the decision doesn’t look good to the public.
Supervisor Randy Powell explained that when they hired Clark, he came in at a salary much lower than other similar departments.
Supervisor Jeremy Ruffner added that since Clark was hired, the statistics for the township police department have gone up.
He said he has looked at the statistics for other departments across Pennsylvania and Lawrence Township is one of the highest, if not the highest, in incidents, arrests, etc.
“He’s worth his weight in gold, in my opinion,” Ruffner said.
Because of the job the department is doing, other municipalities with “deeper pockets” have been courting Clark, who went to the supervisors and explained the situation.
After discussion with Clark and the solicitor, the board agreed to the $24,000. Powell added that Clark is part of the bargaining unit.
Even so, Powell said, Clark is still the lowest paid police chief of comparatively-sized departments in the county. He said the police chief at Clearfield is paid $1,000 more than Clark.
Since being hired, Clark has provided the supervisors and media with statistics regarding arrests, incidents, served warrants and so on, comparing the current month with the same time one year ago, and those statistics the first year were significantly higher than under previous leadership, and they continue to increase.
Additionally, the revenues coming in have increased exponentially, from less than $20,000 to over $100,000 due to fines and costs.
Clark has stated one of his goals is to attack the illegal drug trade directly and arrest those involved.
Clark retired from the Pennsylvania State Police after 25 years prior to coming to work for Lawrence Township in July of 2017.
The supervisors also heard from resident Ernie Aughenbaugh who asked what can be done about Stinky Run in the Haney Development area of the township.
He said the stream is incredibly damaging to property, especially with the excessive rain events of last year and this spring.
Aughenbaugh noted his driveway has been damaged and he saw a man hole cover completely blown off at one point.
He referred to other properties in the area that have suffered water damage and asked what the township can do about it.
Powell replied that each time the state Department of Environmental Protection has done an inspection, they have signed off on Stinky Run, saying that everything is in order.
Code Enforcement Officer Debra Finkbeiner suggested that a storm management review is needed in the area and the supervisors agreed.
Township engineer Stiffler McGraw and Associates will be contacted and asked to come and look at the situation during the next major rain event, and Aughenbaugh said he would like to be included in the meeting.