AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Opinion

July 27, 2012

Municipalities should pay share for state police

The cost for a municipality not to provide local police service just got a price tag.

Thanks to legislation by Sen. Christine Tartaglione, D-Philadelphia, and passed by the House and Senate during the June 30 budget flurry, municipalities that provide less than 40 hours a week of police coverage would forfeit fees from local traffic tickets written by Pennsylvania State Police.

Under the current law, townships and boroughs receive half of the revenue from traffic fines issued by state troopers. The money goes to the municipality where the violation occurred.

Instead those fees will now go to training state police cadets and is projected to generate about $4 million annually.

We laud Sen. Tartaglione for finally carrying this legislative ball across the goal line. As state police ranks dwindle - as well as state funding in general - several attempts to fund the force through direct levies have fallen short in recent years.

Tartaglione's bill, however, should only be the first step in making sure municipalities that use the state police for public safety pay their share.

Next, the General Assembly should require that if a municipality shutters its police force, it must pay for state police protection.

The amount would be less than a local force costs but certainly more than the current bargain price.

With every public dollar stretched and about to be stressed further as pressure to fund pensions and other costs expands, more municipalities might decide to shelve local police forces. From 2002 to 2009, 65 municipalities did just that.

In Cumberland County the state police provide primary protection for 16 municipalities and part time protection for two. In Dauphin County 23 municipalities count on the state police for protection full time, 5 municipalities part time. Williamstown, in northern Dauphin County, cut its budget nearly in half in 2009 by turning to the state for protection. In Perry County the numbers are larger, the state police protect 25 communities full time and five part time.

If a municipality already uses state police in lieu of a local force, it should pay based on the level of services it uses. A formula could be devised collaboratively by legislators and leaders of statewide municipal associations based on what it costs state police to provide services.

A rural township with no town center and few police calls would pay little. A municipality with a commercial sector and a significant residential base, which is bound to use more police services, would pay more.

This is a matter of fairness.

All Pennsylvanians fund state police protection through the state budget. But those protected by local police are paying the bill for their own force plus they are paying for the protection of other municipalities.

Local elected officials have been justified in their opposition to previous funding plans. Charging $25, $52 or more than $100 per resident, as some formulas proposed, is an unrealistic burden, one that would bust local budgets and cause more harm than good. A better way can be worked out.

It's time to level the playing field and equitably fund the state police, sharing the burden to improve coverage for all.

Sen. Tartaglione has provided a solid first step. It's a journey the Legislature should continue when it returns to Harrisburg.

Published July 14, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Forced-pooling hearing should include those affected

    It's hard, after all we’ve seen, to imagine that the long-simmering debate about fracking for natural gas is as simple as either side says it is.

    April 18, 2014

  • Protecting reporters and the right to know

    If it had been solely up to government officials at the time, how much do you think Americans would have learned about the Watergate break-in and the White House cover-up that followed? Maybe nothing.

    March 12, 2014

  • Dispute over meetings warrants public attention

    Something funny is going on in Pulaski Township.

    February 7, 2014

  • Mister Rogers vs. the Unity Tree

    I was walking by Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue last week when struck by our city’s “Unity Tree.” It’s a curious thing about the Unity Tree: it only comes out at Christmas time — yes, Christmas.

    January 17, 2014

  • Drilling anywhere in PA has implications for all

    If you drink water, read this.

    January 10, 2014

  • Sudden snow sometimes creates idiots on roads

    Spring in December seemed to have sprung last Saturday when the sun was shining and the mercury rose above 40 degrees. The prediction of freezing rain for Sunday appeared way off the mark.

    January 3, 2014

  • Online gambling study ordered for Pennsylvania

    Coming on the heels of a report noting that total revenue from Pennsylvania slot machines for November was down 1.3 percent from last November, the state Senate recently passed a resolution, calling for a study of gambling in Pennsylvania, including the possibility of legalizing online gambling.

    January 3, 2014

  • Obamacare stumbles over the basics of signups

    Every new program is bound to have a few glitches. But what’s happening right now with the nation’s new health insurance program and online signup efforts is disturbing. And it creates uncertainty regarding the entire concept of health care reform.

    November 26, 2013

  • Anti-cyberbullying efforts may be having effect

    Parents everywhere must be rejoicing, because a new poll suggests that cyberbullying among students seems to be decreasing.

    November 26, 2013

  • A veteran, 90, recalls Patton, Ike, freedom

    I recently took my two teenage sons to a talk by Frank Kravetz, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who survived Hitler’s Nuremberg prisons. Frank published his story in a memoir, “Eleven Two: One WWII Airman’s Story of Capture, Survival and Freedom.”

    November 26, 2013

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide