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Duquesne City Council has approved pay hikes for starting police officers in an attempt to fill some vacancies in the force.
With a unanimous vote, the starting hourly wage for a new officer in the city will be $21.25, up from $19.10. As part of the measure, three current officers will see their hour wage increase to $22.75.
“We are down two or three officers,” said Mayor Scott Adams. The increases will cost the borough an additional $7,000. Adams said other options would have cost the borough as much as $60,000 “and we weren’t going to do that.”
Barring an extension, the current police contract is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2023.
In other business, Act 47 Coordinator George Dougherty introduced new policy analyst Bethany Williams, who talked about the idea of Duquesne looking into the “Home Rule” charter. “It’s the least understood of the government tool boxes,” she added.
Williams advocated putting the measure on a ballot to see if residents wanted Home Rule, but council discussed not yet being finished with Act 47 and seeing how that action goes forward. Council agreed to have more Act 47 workshops.
City Manager Kelly Robertson said Duquesne is moving ahead with plans for a vacant property recovery program. There are currently five or six unclaimed properties in which the owners cannot be found that the city hopes to sell to interested investors, Robertson said.
Interested parties would need to apply and provide $3,000 to clear the lien for purchase. Then, “the council would decide how to move forward,” she said. Although the current plan would take nine to 12 months for the first group of properties to be transferred to new owners, officials hope this would be a way to get some blight back to use.
Some food truck vendors have been using vacant lots to sell hot dogs, hamburgers and drinks, officials reported. Vendors are required to get permits, officials said.
In other action, longtime Duquesne constable and business owner Leonard Evagues was appointed to the Zoning Hearing Board.
The meeting concluded with residents asking about improved parking and snow removal in the winter. Councilwoman Elaine Washington said that the Public Works department would be in touch with the concerned residents.
Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. This is his first article for Tube City Almanac.
Originally published June 22, 2022.