East Manchester Twp. fighting Northeastern Regional Police board over $6,700
East Manchester Township, the largest of three municipalities served by Northeastern Regional Police Department, is angling for control of the department in exchange for its financial contributions, and negotiations could lead to the township either leaving the department or taking it over.
Steven H. Gross Jr., chairman of the township's board of supervisors, said Wednesday the township would not pay more than 70% of the charges for service in the police budget.
"The two boroughs are upset about that, which is fine," he said. "That is the issue at hand."
Manchester and Mount Wolf boroughs also receive services from the police department, and each borough has two representatives on the Northeastern Regional Police Advisory Board.
The township's four representatives round out the eight-member police board. All decisions must pass with a simple majority and supporting votes from at least two of the three municipalities.
East Manchester Township officials have said they're concerned the police budget will continue to increase each year and that the township will keep having to foot the bill.
The proposed 2020 budget discussed at the police board meetings the past several months would amount to roughly $1.87 million paid by the three municipalities.
The 2019 budget was about $1.77 million, meaning there would be an increase of about $100,000.
Gross has said repeatedly at meetings that the township would be willing to pay 70.36% of the total — the projected 2020 charges calculated for the township using a weighted formula based the number of emergency calls, population, miles of roadway and taxable property — if the township either could have another representative on the police board or if one of the boroughs would reduce their representation to one person, according to meeting minutes.
The payment would amount to about $1,318,000, and the changes to the board would give East Manchester Township a simple majority with its own representatives.
If the township were not to get more voting power, then it would pay 70%, or about $1,311,000, and the remaining 0.36% would need to be covered by the two boroughs, Gross said.
That 0.36% would equal about $6,700.
Manchester borough would pay 18.88%, or about $354,000, and Mount Wolf borough would pay 10.76%, or about $201,000.
Right now, the police department is operating under the 2019 budget until the 2020 budget negotiations are resolved or until the board adopts a 2021 budget, if the negotiations continue through the end of the year.
Mount Wolf Mayor Maureen Starner, one of two Mount Wolf representatives on the police board, said Thursday that this comes down to a philosophical difference about the balance of power.
"In their minds, because they (East Manchester Township) pay the majority, they should have majority control over the police department," she said.
Starner said her philosophy is different, and that she thinks each of the three municipalities should pay their portion of the usage and should each have a say in how the department is run, regardless of their size.
The board usually agrees on most decisions, and there's not usually a contentious relationship between the municipalities, she said.
Barry Rudisill, a township supervisor and police board member, has also proposed that East Manchester Township take over the police department and then sell services to the boroughs.
Dave Naylor, chairman of the police board and a township supervisor, said Wednesday at a township supervisors' meeting that the police board is still in discussions about how to move forward.
"There’s pros and cons to all the different situations that have been discussed," police Chief Bryan Rizzo said Friday. "I am optimistic that this board will be able to work it out and come to a consensus."
Manchester borough officials did not respond to a request for comment, and the East Manchester Township supervisors were not available for further comment because it's their stated policy not to return phone calls from reporters.
This isn't the first time a regional police department in York County has dealt with cost-sharing disputes.
The Southwestern Regional Police Department dissolved at the end of last year after its biggest financial contributor, North Codorus Township, voted to leave the department in January 2019.
North Corodus paid about $1 million each year for police services and covered roughly half of Southwestern's annual budget.
The remaining municipalities soon followed suit and contracted with other area departments.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct list of the four elements used in the funding formula for the Northeastern Regional Police Department.