Thursday, July 16, 2009

Should Lower Macungie pay for State Police Services?

In 2008, Forks Township, where I live, spent 36.2% of its total budget on police services. That’s a lot of taxpayer dollars. Yet, neighboring municipalities like Lower Macungie have no police departments of their own and rely instead on PA State Police to serve their police protection needs.

What’s wrong with this picture? Yes, some of us are once again paying twice while some pay only once. I pay taxes that support Forks’ police department and I pay State taxes, a portion of which goes to fund the Pennsylvania State Police. Of course, my neighbors in Lower Macungie also pay taxes to the State. And, they do not have the burden of funding a local PD.

Of course, before fairness (as in everybody pays) can be used as a tool in this argument, one must consider what it is that my police-less neighbors want. Perhaps they do not want the burden of more bureaucracy, more institutions, more paperwork, etc. Theirs isn’t exactly a free ride. They simply do not pay directly for local police services. They still pay. They do no have the benefit of a police department where “everybody knows your name.”

This is not about Forks Township however, it is about Lower Macungie Township and their need to settle on police coverage.

Under House Bill 1500 a fee would be imposed on municipalities for patrol services provided by the Pennsylvania State Police; and providing for allocation of funds and for penalties. A per resident fee shall be paid by a municipality: (1) for the first year of service, the fee shall be $52 per year. (2) For the second year of service, the fee shall be $104 per year. For the third and subsequent years of service, the fee shall be $156 per resident per year for Pennsylvania State Police full-time patrol services.

This is the interesting balance that public officials need to understand. In the specific case of Lower Macungie, the issue is between funding a local police force and the regionalization of police services. I do believe the townships need to explore regionalization of its public services, including police protection. In these stressful economic times, this is the best course of action to save taxpayers money.

Lower Macungie Township needs to look at regionalization of its police services versus paying a fee to the State for police protection.

It is a tough decision, but a regional police force may be the best option for Lower Macungie to provide a professional police force with a local focus. It is certainly worth the discussion!


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1 comment:

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