During the sometimes contentious discussion, it was revealed that the borough owns 10 vehicles, four whose mileage is 5,000 miles or less, one with 70,000 miles, and others with mileages ranging from 13,000 to 42,000. A detective's car, a van, and a street sweeper are among the 10 vehicles.
"We had to look at some really tough numbers this year with the budget," Councillor Kelly Murphy said, noting that there is only one vehicle nearing the end of its life. "We didn't feel it was necessary to replace one this year," adding that the purchase of a new vehicle was pushed back one year. Lutz stated there had been a previous discussion that a new vehicle would be purchased to replace a 2005 Tahoe with 71,000 miles. He said the vehicle is costing the borough money to keep it on the road. Lutz also noted that there are currently no vehicles except for a Ford Fusion used by the detective that has less than 4,000 miles. Another vehicle is a replacement due to a "demolition."
"This Tahoe is going to cost us money for the next year and a half that it's going to take before it gets to another budget cycle for the sake of going out for a municipal lease that's in the budget for $7,000," Lutz said. "We'll probably approach most of that within the next year and a half in maintenance costs on that vehicle. This doesn't make sense, none whatsoever, especially when you're sitting on a capital reserve that you're currently sitting on. If you don't do it this year you're going to live with this thing for another year and half." Lutz also said that if one of the vehicles goes down, two patrolmen will need to ride in one vehicle.
Murphy said he has not received any information about the expense of maintaining the vehicles. He said that according to the previous borough manager and verified by other sources the vehicle purchased for the detective is not being used - to the point that the battery needs to be jumped to get it started. He said the detective is putting miles on police vehicles that the police should be putting on. Lutz countered by saying the vehicle was being jumped due to an electrical problem. He said the vehicle has a mileage of 3,000, because only one person is using it, and a lot of his work is done in the office.
Councillor Barry Ford asked Lutz how many cars per shift are being used. Lutz said that it depends on how many officers are on a shift. "It could be four. It could be five," Lutz said. "It could be three. It could be two." Lutz also noted that vehicles cannot be run "24/7."
"I need to know whether we're going to have a vehicle or not," Lutz said. He noted that the borough has a budget reserve of $3.2 million. "That's 10 mills. If anything, the borough ought to give the people a mill tax reduction this year, and give them a break."
Councillor Jim Smith said, "I'd go for that rather than buying a police cruiser." But Murphy cautioned that the projection for next year could pull the reserve down by almost $800,000.
Lutz then claimed that for 12 years the police department has returned $1.9 million into the general fund, not including fines, citations, reimbursements for overtime from the school district, or money reimbursed for vests and other items. "Probably 66% of your budget reserve was earned by the police department," Lutz said. Murphy asked how that was possible. Lutz shot back, "I don't know. Ask your accountant, because I took the figures off your accountant."
"That budget comes from you," Murphy said. "You're saying you saved us $1.9 million."
"I don't do that part of the budget," Lutz replied. "I can't support this budget unless you give me reassurances we're buying a police vehicle."
Smith said, "You're saying what this car's going to cost. How about showing something? All that is - that's your word."
Lutz replied, "It's in the budget! The chief told me the vehicle is starting to cost us money. I know the Tahoes are costing us money, because of the downtime in the shop."
Councillor Mary Barninger asked which shop is servicing the vehicles, citing the absence of bills in the check registers.
Several councillors recalled a bill from Lancaster Avenue Garage for a water pump for a Tahoe, as well as one for $42 for an inspection.
"We need to have some factual information," Murphy said. "Supporting documentation always helps. We've asked for this how many years now." He said spreadsheets should be made available to show vehicle maintenance costs.
Acting Borough Manager Ron Miller said, "We have it. We just don't have an organized spreadsheet. I'll just work on getting that spreadsheet together, because the information's there."
Council voted unanimously to pass the 2015 budget, with the cuts intact and no increase in the tax rate.
Lutz subsequently vetoed the budget at some point after the meeting.
Follow-up: A reliable source informed this website today that Mayor Lutz contacted LNP about his decision to veto the budget. He did not officially inform council.
A source also informed us that eight police vehicles were allegedly sitting idle near the police station for several hours this past Monday. We were also informed that there are usually three officers per shift.
The two videos below showing six police vehicles sitting idle near the police station were shot today - an hour apart, the first just before 1 p.m., the second just before 2 p.m.