Millersville Police Chief John Rochat has been a familiar face in the borough for more than two decades, and that won’t change anytime soon.
Rochat, who picked up another hat as interim borough manager in November, will remain in both roles indefinitely after council voted to make the arrangement “permanent” at its regular meeting on July 23.
“I was honored that they asked me to stay on and do it,” Rochat, 64, told LNP in an interview Tuesday.
The arrangement is rare in Lancaster County, but not unprecedented.
Rochat will continue to receive his salary as chief of police at $101,316 along with a $1,200 weekly stipend for his borough duties. A year’s combined pay would total approximately $163,716.
The pay may seem eye-popping, but Millersville Borough Council President Daniel P. Ostrowski said a separate, full-time role would have cost the borough more with benefits included. The previous borough manager, Bradley Gotshall, had an annual salary of $88,000, according to LNP archives.
He added the cost savings “wasn’t a driving factor” for keeping Rochat as manager but “was a side benefit.”
Rochat will report to the borough council in his role as borough manager, while Millersville Borough Mayor Richard M. Moriarty will supervise Rochat in his role as police chief, the mayor said.
The borough considered 63 applicants and interviewed eight candidates following Gotshall’s resignation.
In the end, however, borough department heads and staff came away preferring Rochat to stay on, Ostrowski said.
The council president noted Rochat will continue in his police post but Lt. Jeffrey Margevich will unburden many of Rochat’s non-administrative responsibilities.
“We needed someone that one — understands the complexities of managing a borough in Pennsylvania — and two — someone that has good leadership and communication abilities,” Ostrowski said.
“In our search, the best candidate was ...John Rochat. I’m 100% confident that the borough will be better off with him in this role.”
‘Not overly common’
Though the arrangement appears unique, it isn’t unprecedented.
“It’s not uncommon but it’s not overly common,” said Leslie Gervasio, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs.
She said it occurs more often as a temporary role to fill a vacancy from a departing municipal manager. Quakertown Borough in Bucks County and Mt. Holly Springs Borough in Cumberland County also have borough managers leading their police force, she added.
Quarryville’s current borough manager was once police chief at the borough, according to LNP archives.
Rochat has had previous municipal government experience. Aside from his combined 42 years in law enforcement, he served as a supervisor in Conewago Township for 12 years and was chairman for 11 of them.
He still lives in Conewago Township with Laurie, his wife of 37 years.
Rochat said he looks to increase intermunicipal collaboration with neighboring Lancaster, Manor and Pequea townships along with a stronger partnership with Millersville University.
Since taking over as borough manager last November, Rochat says he’s been as busy as he’s ever been.
“I always do my best work when I’m under the gun,” he said. “I like to stay busy.”
Another side benefit to the double duty: Rochat has significantly increased his footwork around the Millersville building, which houses both the borough offices and police department.
“I should be paying the borough a gym membership,” he joked.
LNP correspondent Elaine Jones contributed to this report.