Hallam Borough ratifies deal to maintain local police service
After months of back-and-forth negotiations between Hallam borough and Hellam Township, a deal was reached Monday that will keep Hellam Township Police patrolling the borough.
The borough council voted 6-1 Monday night to approve a three-year contract submitted by Hellam Township that will boost police spending by 26% in 2022.
"It's behind us now; I'm very happy," said council President William Fitzpatrick. "Nobody on my council wanted to get rid of the cops. It was all a matter of money, so I'm walking out here very happy with the results."
In 2019, Hallam borough paid $244,076 for local police services. Under the new contract, which begins Jan. 1, costs will increase yearly. By 2022, the borough will pay $332,839.
Borough officials didn't say how the increase would be funded. But officials have said that a tax hike would be required to fund a significant increase in police spending.
Initially, Hellam Township sought a contract that would increase the borough's payment to more than $404,000 by 2022, a roughly 65% increase.
Hellam Township Board of Supervisors Chairman Galen Weibley said he is happy that the borough is continuing to be a partner in the police service.
"I'm happy that we closed this chapter between our two municipalities, and I look forward to the great relationship with Hallam borough to make sure the Hellam Township Police Department is the best," Weibley said.
Hallam officials rejected a proposal in August, raising the possibility that the borough could instead be covered by state police.
A divided council led a number of borough council meetings packed with concerned residents who had different opinions on how the borough should proceed.
Council Vice President Harry "Chip" Smith, who opposed the deal ratified Monday, has consistently opposed any contract that would boost the borough's spending.
"The arrangement with the police was based on the borough paying their fair share," Smith said after the vote. "This contract represents much more than that."
Hallam Mayor Glenn Wascovich said though he's pleased with the vote, he's "regretful" that the issue has taken a toll on the community and turned into a negative issue.
Wascovich has been vocal about the police contract issue, helping manufacture "Save Our Police" signs that can be seen in dozens of residents' yards.
"At the end of the day, I'm really proud of our community and standing up for what's right," Wascovich said. "I'm glad the council finally listened."
— Reach Tina Locurto at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.