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Linglestown Gazette: Townships need to share services

Friday, January 30, 2009

Townships need to share services

Patriot-News editors made a case today for small cities and communities to join forces to provide police coverage instead of dumping the burden on the state police. This is an issue that's near and dear to state Rep. Ron Marsico's heart.

B² analysis ...

Lower Paxton isn't going to disband its police force, but the township might be able to reduce police costs by forming a regional police force with fast-growing East, South and West Hanover townships.

Heck, why stop at police services? The political boundaries for Lower Paxton and neighboring communities no longer make sense now that villages and former farm fields have been globbed together thanks to suburban sprawl. Besides police, there are other municipal services that could be shared or regionalized.

The current economic recession has cast a light on the need to streamline government at all levels. But, and this is a big but, citizen activism is an absolute must if the system is going to be challenged.

Lower Paxton officials had to work long and hard to avoid enacting a property-tax hike to fund the township's 2009 budget. Odds are a tax hike will be needed next year or in 2011.

The time for action is now, Gazette readers. I'd say a good first step would be to call for Lower Paxton officials to generate a list of services that have the potential to be shared with neighboring municipalities. Take a minute now to make the request by sending an e-mail to the township supervisors.



At 10:38 PM, Anonymous PoPo said...

The other Townships would have to come up with a ton of money for police coverage. It would not benefit LP to extend their services. Many more Police Officers would need to be hired to cover the additional miles of roadways.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger  said...

RE: The other Townships would have to come up with a ton of money for police coverage.

You could be right, PoPo. Thanks for weighing in on the issue.

The jury is still out as to whether neighboring townships need or want more police coverage than the state police can provide. Plus, no one recently has conducted a study to determine whether a regional or shared police force is financially feasible.

The key is to get serious about streamlining local government. The model of every municipality doing their own thing is on life support.

At 3:32 PM, Blogger  said...

RE: regional or shared police force

In order to offer police coverage to East, South and West Hanover townships, my guess is that Lower Paxton and one or two neighboring communities with police departments would have to form a regional police force.

This type of thing has been done in other parts of the state, and the state government assists local governments to do conduct police merger studies.

Odds are local officials will shy away from merging police forces until massive tax hikes are required to maintain the status quo. And, that day could just around the bend.

It would make sense for East Shore officials to begin preliminary talks on regionalizing police and other municipal services now while balancing the books is still doable.

At 6:47 PM, Anonymous PoPo said...

The problem with your idea is that LP is the only one footing the bill right now. In your example the mergers that have taken place have occured when one or more jurisdictions already have Police service. How would LP save money to begin with. I am talking about the costs of insurance, equipment, buildings and liability worries. I appreciate your idea Billy but you should stick to blogging.

At 7:12 PM, Blogger Harry said...

PoPo, for the merge to happen, other townships would have to make moves to support such a police force. Either that, or we take it on the chin and we get some kind of back pay later.

At 10:57 PM, Blogger  said...

PoPo, check out my second comment time-stamped 3:32 pm. In it I speculate that Lower Paxton would have to merge with at least one other municipality that has a police force.

Regionalizing police and other municipal services makes sense in our area because suburban Harrisburg is one giant community, but studies need to be conducted to come up with detailed plans for making it work.


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