At the March 13 regular meeting of the Sumpter Township Board of Trustees, in a surprise move, Police Chief Eric Luke was promoted to Public Safety Director with a $12,000 raise. That would make his base pay $120,000, with perks on top of that.
Trustee Don LaPorte, the liaison to the police and fire departments had recommended the consolidation to Supervisor John Morgan. Apparently, it also had been discussed by board members in the past, but not in public session. Trustee LaPorte said the fire department has the second-largest budget in the township — a half-million dollars — and had only a part-time chief to watch over it. The police department had a full-time chief to watch over its budget.
Attorney Rob Young said consolidating the two operations had many pluses, including grant opportunities and many overlaps in public safety. “A lot of communities do this,” Young said.
Treasurer Peggy Morgan, a longtime supporter of the police and fire departments, made a motion to delay the promotion until the new budget, which starts April 1. There was no second to her motion. She said she just got the information on the issue and would like time to discuss it with the supervisor.
The motion to approve passed 5-1, with Treasurer Morgan voting no and Trustee Sheena Barnes absent. Surprise: Sumpter now has a public safety department.
CLARIFICATION: Eric Luke wrote to the Independent: “A correction is needed. With the raise for the new position my base pay is now $99,500, not $120,000. Last year’s figure, which is what you used as your starting figure to come up with the $120,000 assumption, included payouts and one-time retro I was due based on the settlement of longtime expired contracts of those below me.”