I-83 lane restrictions expected as contractor repairs Queen Street bridge

Southwestern Regional Police Board eyes slashing costs

Southwestern Regional Police Department in Heidelberg Township, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Southwestern Regional Police Board is looking at cost-cutting measures in an effort to keep municipalities from abandoning the department.

On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the board unanimously voted to allow Police Chief Greg Bean to work with the personnel committee to come up with a new budget.

The department has been operating on a 2017 budget because the board, which governs the department, has been unable to vote on a budget since then because of a lack of unanimous support from its members. 

Additionally, the board voted to initiate a study of pensions to determine if early retirement options can be offered to senior employees.

"We're just trying to come up with a plan that will work for everyone," Larry Miller, board vice chairman and Manheim Township supervisor said after the meeting.

Last year, North Codorus Township submitted its intent to leave the department by the end of 2019. North Codorus contributes about $1 million annually to Southwestern Regional Police, the largest amount of any member. 

In addition to North Codorus Township, the 14-officer department serves Heidelberg Township, Manheim Township and Spring Grove.

Meeting: At Wednesday's meeting, Robert Whyland, who represents Spring Grove and sits on the personnel committee, said he and Spring Grove Mayor Beverly Hilt have been looking at reducing hours officers spend in the  municipality to cut costs.

Their early estimations suggest that reducing staffing from 14 to 10 officers could lower expenses while maintaining what's considered a full-time police presence in member communities.

For example, under this plan, an officer would spend about 190 hours a week in North Codorus, down from more than 250. The proposal would apply proportional cuts to other municipalities. 

Last month, Bean presented the proposal to reduce staff from 14 to 12 as a way of cost-cutting. 

Whyland said the department's administrator put together a budget idea for the committee, but it needs "a lot of finessing."

Manheim Township: Matt Muir, a Manheim Township supervisor, took issue with a letter sent to residents from the police officer's association, which he said stated the township was looking to leave over police costs.

That letter, he said, included statistics about the department. 

Muir also said that some residents were telling him that officers also were saying Manheim Township wants to pull out because of the price. 

During public comment Wednesday, Muir said that wasn't the case. The township has never had a problem with the budget, he said.

“Our question has always been, if North Codorus pulls out, what’s the force look like?” he said.

The chief said he talked to officers about not "campaigning on duty" but  added that he had no information to suggest that was happening. 

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser