The Coatesville Side Bar

A closer look into Chester County's only city.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Police Special Programs Coordinator Fired -- Or Is She?

This might have everyone scratching their heads.

Donna Walton, special programs coordinator for the Coatesville Police Department, was told recently that she would no longer be working for the department because a grant funding her salary had run out.

The problem is, as far as Walton knew, her salary was originally funded through a state Weed & Seed grant, but as of June 2006, her salary was funded through the police department's budget.

(Scratch head.)

Police Chief William Matthews, under the direction of administrators, told Walton that her last day would be Friday. Matthews was under the impression that the grant had run out and the city was too broke to cover her salary.

Not only was Walton confused because administrators thought she was being paid through a grant, while she understood that her salary is a line item in the police budget. But, she was also confused because the city can afford to pay part-time employees in administrative offices, but cannot afford to pay her full-time salary. In addition, Walton was confused because the new police chief has touted his community policing plan, but wanted to eliminate the position that assists with numerous youth and community programs.

(Scratch head again.)

Later -- late Thursday -- the chief communicated with the city's human resources office, and learned that there were issues with the initial information administrators presented him with. And, as of Thursday, it was unclear to him whether Walton was getting paid through a state grant or the city.

Because of this uncertainty, Matthews said Thursday that he will inform Walton that she may remain with the police department until the issue is straightened out.

While with the department, Walton has helped coordinate the Youth Aid Panel, community support projects like CSI Camp for kids, and National Night Out. And most recently, she and Community Relations Officer Jim Audette compiled the city's annual Weed & Seed report. In addition, Walton is part of Coatesville's "rapid response team" for Chester County's Domestic Violence Center.

One would hope this confusion would get straightened out soon given that someone's employment is on the line.


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