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Southwestern police board pitches new budget

Signs supporting the service of Southwestern Regional Police appear along a road in Stoverstown Tuesday, March 19, 2019. In October, supervisors submitted their intent to abandon the service of the by the end of 2019, citing rising costs as the reason behind the departure. Bill Kalina photo

Southwestern Regional Police could see its first new budget in years, should its municipalities sign off on it.

The proposed budget would cut funding from each of the four municipalities and result in fewer officers. Southwestern currently operates on a 2017 budget.

The police board voted Wednesday to send the budget to the four member municipalities for review and ratification. North Codorus Township would pay $930,000 should it stay with the department in 2020, under the proposed budget.

That would be a reduction of $62,600 from what the township paid this year.

Southwestern Regional Police also serves Heidelberg Township, Manheim Township and Spring Grove.

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The department would also be staffed by 11 officers instead of 14. Currently, there are only eight active officers in the department due to turnover.

All four municipalities must ratify the budget proposal before it goes back to the police board for a final vote.

This new budget is an attempt to cut costs for North Codorus Township, which is expecting to leave by year's end, mainly over cost.

The township, which pays roughly half of the police budget, announced its intent to leave in October.

Rodney Shearer, a North Codorus Township supervisor who serves on the police board, said the new budget would bring the township to about 190 weekly services hours. The township now receives 250 hours, which township officials have said is too much.

Under this new budget, Heidelberg Township would pay $352,320, Manheim Township would pay $313,300, and Spring Grove would pay $324,617 for police service in 2020.

Each of them would save more than $20,000 in yearly police costs.

Shearer said it is possible that township officials could discuss the proposed Southwestern budget at Tuesday's North Codorus Township meeting.

The township is considering Northern Regional Police, which offered a five-year contract for 170 hours a week at $744,000 a year. Unlike its position in Southwestern, North Codorus Township would not have a vote on Northern Regional Police's police board. 

However, Police Chief Mark Bentzel has estimated the township would have to pay a one-time fee of about $23,000 to join as a member.

Last month, township supervisors voted to advertise the contract with Northern Regional Police. Shearer said they would be voting on that contract Tuesday.

If supervisors vote in favor of Northern Regional, they can't go back, Shearer said.

“Once we sign the contract with Northern Regional, we’re tied in," he said.

Northern Regional, the state's first regional department, covers Dover borough, Dover Township, Manchester Township, Paradise Township, Conewago Township, North York, Franklin Township and Jackson Township. 

North Codorus supervisors meet again 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at the township building at 1986 Stoverstown Road.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser