Stewartstown stands to save more than $100,000 a year in police costs should it join the Southern Regional Police Department.
Borough and police commission officials touted the savings and increased coverage to about 80 residents at a special meeting at Eureka Fire Co. Tuesday night.
Richard "Buck" Buchanan, a member of the Southern Regional Police Commission and a Shrewsbury councilman, said the savings would come after four years' time once Stewartstown buys into the department.
With about $118,000 in physical assets, Stewartstown would have to put forward $370,000, spread out over a four-year period, to buy into the department.
At $123,380, first year costs are higher because of a need to re-mark Stewartstown's police fleet and to buy equipment used by Southern Regional. The borough would then pay $82,140 each year for the next three years, Buchanan said.
The borough could join the department on Jan. 1, 2014, he said.
Savings: Stewartstown, which budgeted about $445,000 for its four-man department in 2013, would see savings after the buy-in process is finished. If Stewartstown were currently a member of the department, it would pay $331,599 for coverage in 2014, Buchanan said.
Other member municipalities of the department would also see savings.
"A regional department is kind of like a wagon wheel," said Southern Regional Police Chief James Boddington. "The more spokes in the wheel, the more spread out costs."
Southern Regional provides full-time service to Glen Rock, New Freedom and Shrewsbury, and part-time coverage to Loganville and Railroad.
The saving is coupled with increased police service, which means Stewartstown would have 24-hours-a-day service. The borough does not have around-the-clock coverage and relies on state police to respond to calls when officers are off duty.
One resident questioned if an officer would be permanently stationed in Stewartstown.
A Southern Regional officer, most likely two, would be on duty at any one time somewhere within the department's jurisdiction, Buchanan said.
"It does mean there will be someone on duty to respond to your call but he's not sitting here (in Stewartstown,)" he said.
Joining up: Talks between Stewartstown and the police commission have been going on for about a year, said Gordon Wisnom Sr., Stewartstown council president.
In order for the borough to join the department, the Stewartstown council would have to vote to do so. All three current member municipalities would also have to approve the measure. From there, the police commission would have to approve letting Stewartstown join.
Should the borough join Southern Regional, its four officers would join the department but would have to go through a one-year probation period.
"The officers will be assimilated into our department," Boddington said. "Your officers will be in the mix. They won't be just dedicated to Stewartstown."
Responses: For the most part, those in the audience were receptive to the idea of joining the department. However, some raised concerns that savings may not pan out while others were concerned about response times.
Resident Harry Nizer said he was apprehensive about the borough's becoming part of the department at first but after sitting through the meeting, he's more inclined to be in favor of it.
The next Stewartstown council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 at the borough office, 6 N. Main St.
The council is not expected to vote on the police matter but residents can voice their opinion about it.
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.