HONESDALE - A borough police officer, who is seeking to be reimbursed $17 for meal expenses incurred during two training sessions, was paid $440 in overtime wages for attending the sessions.

One borough councilman expressed concern over the disproportionate numbers.

Acting Sgt. Keith Colombo attended the two-day training on May 5 and 6 last year. Since he was working overtime hours, he was paid time and half, according to borough records.

The officer worked 11 1/2 hours of overtime during the two days, receiving an overtime pay rate of $38.25 per hour. That equates to $439.88 in overtime pay for two days.

Colombo could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The officer had filed a grievance after Chief Rick Southerton would not reimburse him $17.85 for the meal expenses. The chief said he didn't think it was appropriate to reimburse the officer.

An arbitration hearing is scheduled for April. If the case goes to arbitration it could cost the borough thousands for an arbiter and lawyer fees.

Colombo previously said the grievance seems senseless but he is taking the action based on principal.

Council President James Brennan said he thinks Colombo's "principle" stance is "ridiculous."

"His principle is going to cost taxpayers $2,000," said the councilman.

Colombo previously said he was not interested in the $17 and the borough is trying to "push around" the police union.

In response Brennan said he wants to do what is best for the police department, taxpayers and the borough.

Colombo had filed the grievance based on "past practice."

In a letter to the borough, the officer had said "it has always been past practice since the beginning of my employment that the borough reimburse its police members according to the state allotments for meals and mileage."

Colombo has said it is his right to file for reimbursement because borough council had no written policy last year about meal expenses.

Council has since enacted a new policy regarding meal reimbursements.

The policy says full-time and part-time officers will be reimbursed for the cost of meals while traveling outside of Wayne County. Only breakfast, lunch and dinner are considered meals.

Breakfast will only be reimbursed when an officer has an overnight stay, or if travel requires them to be on the road prior to two hours before their scheduled start time.

Dinner will only be reimbursed when an officer has an overnight stay, or is returning to the county from travel after 7 p.m.

Meal reimbursements are:

• Breakfast and lunch - up to $10 per meal when allowed

• Dinner - up to $20 per meal when allowed

All meal reimbursements are to be submitted to the police chief with detailed, itemized receipts.