WILKES-BARRE — The Wilkes-Barre Police Benevolent Association will not budge on its refusal to pay any of the $26,212 for the pending review of the police department approved last week by city council.
The union, which has been involved in a public feud with the administration over officer discipline and the firing last month of vice president Dan Duffy, believes Mayor Tony George caused the problems and the city should foot the bill.
“He’s responsible for the people he appointed,” said Sgt. Phil Myers, president of the more than 70-member PBA.
“We have not and will not agree to pay for the assessment,” Myers said Tuesday.
The administration, too, held firm against making a formal request to the union for help with the cost of the review, even while the city is struggling financially and can’t afford unbudgeted expenses.
“It would be nice if they would pay,” said city Administrator Ted Wampole.
“They know we’ve made it public,” he added, referring to the mayor’s statement in September that the PBA cover the cost.
Without the help, the city will have to pay the full amount, the mayor noted. “It’s coming out of the general fund,” George said.
The city’s financial adviser projected a cash balance of $693,409 at the end of the year. But that’s a drop of $306,591 from the $1 million it began with in January. The city is operating on a $47.1 million balanced budget this year.
Council voted 5-0 at its Nov. 9 public meeting to go ahead with the review by the Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association that could take up to 10 weeks. The goal is to provide recommendations to resolve the ongoing issues between the union and Chief Marcella Lendacky.
Council said if it resolves the differences, the review would be well worth the cost.
Between January 2016 — when the mayor took office and appointed Lendacky as chief — through August of this year, the city spent $116,299 on legal costs associated with the union’s labor complaints. In comparison, it spent a total of $30,709 — or almost four times less — between 2014 and 2015.
The PCPA said it will focus on two goals during the project:
• Identifying the cause of the internal discord and recommending steps to promote a more amicable and cohesive work environment.
• Creating a path for the department to comply with accepted best practices and standards.