'Out of whack': East Manchester Twp. blasts Northeastern Regional Police funding formula
The Northeastern Regional Police Board remained at a cost-sharing stalemate Wednesday, with East Manchester Township's representatives maintaining that they're being overcharged for services and and saying they won't pay more than 70% of the service charges.
Josh Parish, one of Mount Wolf's two representatives, went over the funding formula in detail at the police board's June 3 meeting to show how each municipality is charged for police services.
"If we went to a formula that was purely based on usage, the percentage would be virtually in line with what you were being asked to pay in 2020," he said to the township's members. "I think you’re getting what you pay for, and I think the two smaller municipalities are getting what they pay for."
Under the proposed 2020 budget, which the board never adopted, East Manchester Township was asked to pay 70.36% of the department's service charges, or $1,318,000, based on a funding formula dating back to 2005.
Manchester borough was asked to pay 18.88%, or about $354,000, and Mount Wolf borough was asked to pay 10.76%, or about $201,000.
The department has been operating under the 2019 budget while the board continues negotiations.
Township officials have said repeatedly since late last year that they would not agree to a budget that had them paying for more than 70% of the service charges because the costs were increasing too much.
Each municipality's charges are calculated based on a weighted formula of 50% call volume, 18% taxable property, 16% road miles within the municipal boundary and 16% population.
Steven H. Gross Jr., an East Manchester Township board member, said he didn't understand why the township's proposed 2020 charges were at 70.36% when the township accounted for only 57% of the calls in April.
"If we’re all saying let’s pay for what we use, it’s out of whack," Gross said.
Parish said he understood why Gross was trying to make that correlation between the number of calls and the amount the township was being charged, but he said the call figures don't account for the back-end costs such as fuel and travel time across the township.
"Wear and tear of a vehicle would be a lot less if it was just running around the two boroughs versus running across a large township," Parish said.
Mount Wolf Mayor Maureen Starner said the township has grown significantly over the past several years while the boroughs have not.
She said it makes sense that as the township grows in size and uses more services, its share of the costs would also jump.
"Even if we change the weight of these factors, you guys have the highest call volume, you guys have the highest road miles, the highest population and the highest taxable property value," Starner said. "No matter how we change these weighting factors, you’re still going to have the majority of the use of this department."
Dave Naylor, chairman of the police board and a township supervisor, mentioned the township's idea to take over control of the police department and sell services to boroughs in the form of PPUs, or police patrol units, and he said it seemed that the boroughs were against that option.
Barry Rudisill, an East Manchester Township board member, voiced frustration that the board hadn't fully considered the idea, which he originally proposed last year.
"I’m not interested in spending hour after hour after hour and meeting after meeting sitting here beating a dead horse," he said.
Adam Bowman, one of Manchester's representatives on the board, said his borough would be open to that plan as long as the costs were reasonable and fair, and he said the ball was in the township's court to explain how it would work.
Parish said Mount Wolf isn't against buying PPUs from the township, but that its representatives are against discussing an option that doesn't have any substance behind it, he said.
"If the township feels that’s their contribution to the solution, give us a proposal of what it would look like," Parish said.
Naylor said the township would consider it.
The next police board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Monday, June 15.