The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 18, 2013

Reps balk at paying more for cops

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SW MERCER COUNTY — Shenango Township’s representatives on the Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Commission voted against the police budget Tuesday, but agreed to take back to their board a request to reconsider the amount of money they tentatively have allocated to the commission.

The commission approved the budget 7-2, with Dave Garrett and Carol Budanka voting no.

Southwest asked its four member communities to increase their assessments by 3 percent in 2014, but Shenango’s tentative budget includes only a 2-percent increase, amounting to a difference of $5,000.

Shenango supervisors will vote on their final budget Thursday, Garrett said.

Budanka said her opposition was “strictly economic.” She and Garrett said they would relay the request to reconsider Southwest’s allocation, but Garrett added, “We’re only two out of a board of five.”

Southwest commission Chairman Thomas R. Tulip said the 3-percent figure was introduced in November, and no one from Shenango expressed any problems with it.

“That needed to be brought forward before today,” he said.

Solicitor Robert Tesone argued that Shenango supervisors are obligated to allocate the 3-percent hike, referring to their approval of the present police union contract, which awards a 2-percent salary hike for 2014.

“You can’t say you’re not going to pay it,” Tesone said. “You signed the agreement.”

The commission approved a $2,296,971 budget, which is 2.2 percent higher than this year’s.

The operating assessments charged to Farrell, Wheatland, West Middlesex and Shenango account for 87 percent of the revenue in Southwest’s budget.

The 2014 budget approved assessments to Farrell of $1,219,633; Shenango, $512,315; West Middlesex, $143,270; and Wheatland, $132,059.

The remaining major revenue sources are the state for police pensions, $121,287, up from $118,336; and court fines and fees, $50,000, down from $65,000.

Grants, Shenango Valley Shuttle Service transit security, assigned duty for events such as high school sporting events and other small sources make up the rest of the income.

On the expense side, 83 percent goes to salaries and fringe benefits, making up $1,917,043 for 2014, up from $1,880,061.

Other expense categories include, with 2013 numbers in parentheses: support services and supplies, $29,000 ($25,900); operations, $65,204 ($67,092); vehicles expenses, $203,000 ($193,833); headquarters expense, $51,025 ($49,225); and lockup expenses, $31,700 ($31,300).