The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 24, 2013

Board agrees to pony up for police

SHENANGO TOWNSHIP — Shenango Township supervisors have moved money around in their proposed 2014 budget to make up the full amount assessed by Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department, but will be studying whether staying with Southwest makes sense financially.

Board Chairman Tom Hubert said he has no complaint about Southwest’s service, but the continually growing assessment is a concern.

The commission on Dec. 17 approved a 2014 budget that raised assessments on Shenango and the three other member municipalities by 3 percent.

Shenango’s two representatives on the seven-member commission voted against the budget, noting their township’s proposed budget had only allocated 2 percent.

At 3 percent, Shenango would pay $512,315, and a 2-percent hike would leave Southwest $5,000 short.

The township supervisors have added the $5,000 to Southwest’s allocation – pulling it from a reserve fund – and will vote formally to adopt the budget Friday, Hubert said.

He also announced that Shenango will conduct a study to weigh its options for police protection. Township officials will compile the information for the study, including contacting other municipalities about their police costs, and later bring in someone to help sift through the information and complete the study, he said.

“I really do like Southwest’s service,” Hubert said.

However, costs continue to go up and the Southwest assessment has become “a large part of our budget,” he said.

Southwest’s 2014 assessment makes up 37 percent of Shenango’s $1,389,162 proposed budget.

An unscientific sampling of local police budgets shows it is difficult to conclude whether 37 percent is an unreasonable budget allocation. Shenango’s percentage is comparable with Sharon’s at 36 percent. Of Shenango’s fellow members of Southwest, Farrell pays 41 percent for police protection; West Middlesex, 21 percent; and Wheatland 25.

Hermitage puts only 23 percent of its budget toward police, while Sharpsville commits 47 percent.

Hubert said Shenango’s intent for the study is not a knee-jerk reaction and the study could show that staying with Southwest makes sense.

“Maybe we’re getting a bargain at $500,000,” he said.

Other options could be restarting a Shenango Township police department, and joining with other, smaller municipalities, he said.

Shenango Township joined Southwest about 20 years ago, abolishing its own department.

Hubert added that, while assessments to Southwest continually go up, the township has put off meeting other needs, such as buying new equipment.

Other factors that went into the decision include that Shenango is mandated to upgrade its sewer plant, with the cost passed onto customers. The increase in user fees will be “huge,” Hubert said.

“We don’t want to have any type of (tax) increase until we know what’s going to happen with that,” he said.

The township spending plan keeps the real estate levy at 12 mills, 1 mill of that for the fire department.

Hubert added that he has heard rumors that Farrell and Sharon are looking at combining their police departments, and he doesn’t know where that would leave Shenango.

Farrell City Manager Michael Ceci said Farrell and Sharon are not considering combining police services, but he noted Farrell’s study of police protection as part of its designation as a financially distressed municipality could be a source of the rumor.

“As I have stated to others numerous times, when the study is completed and shared with the commission, Farrell then may have to develop options for providing alternative police services to our community, which in my opinion would leave no options off the table for discussion,” Ceci said.

“However, until then, any talk of Farrell combining police services with Sharon is not accurate and must be motivated by and benefiting only those that continue to spread the rumor,” he said.

The commission said at its last meeting that the study, funded by a state grant and undertaken by a consultant, could be complete in the early months of 2014.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • News briefs from April 24, 2014

    April 24, 2014

  • Bus cameras will be listening, too

    Hermitage School District is taking advantage of a recently enacted exemption to the state’s wiretap law in allowing officials to turn on the audio recording capability on school bus and vehicle video cameras.

    April 24, 2014

  • Union, city OK 4-year contract

    Hermitage’s nonuniformed employees have a new four-year contract that gives them average pay hikes of 2.5 percent a year and the opportunity to live outside the city limits, while allowing administrators more flexibility in scheduling.

    April 24, 2014

  • 2 principals to be hired

    Sharpsville Area school directors needed a shove to make a decision but the board voted Tuesday to interview candidates and hire two principals for 2014-15.

    April 24, 2014

  • Prison term upheld for sex offender

    A sex offender challenging a 4- to 8-year prison sentence for a probation violation lost an appeal of that sentence.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man, 24, must register as sex offender for life

    The Ohio man who exposed himself to Sharon girls on their way to school last fall must register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life when he gets out of jail.

    April 23, 2014

  • Man deemed predator – for now

    A former Sharon man was sent to the state prison system Tuesday for corrupting the morals of a teenage girl, but the question of whether his penalties under Megan’s Law will stand could be subject to future legal proceedings.

    April 23, 2014

  • Not even waste will be wasted

    Tom Darby admits he wishes the startup of the anaerobic digestion process at the Hermitage Water Pollution Control Plant had moved along much faster.

    April 23, 2014

  • 3rd Earth Fest draws families to Penn State

    Penn State Shenango’s Earth Fest has become a spring tradition for area residents.
    Families poured into downtown Sharon for the campus’ third annual sustainability celebration.

    April 22, 2014

  • Amish clean Shenango River Volunteers protect Shenango River

    Shenango River Watchers has spent more than a decade working to clean up the Shenango and improve recreational access to its water and banks.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • For many, recycling’s become way of life

    When Pennsylvania mandated curbside recycling for its larger municipalities in 1998 – those with more than 5,000 people – there was grumbling about government interference in the lives of everyday people.

    April 22, 2014

  • Many items can’t be thrown away

    The computer screen in front of you isn’t likely to do you much harm, at least not until it’s tossed in a landfill where the lead-filled components start to leak and eventually find their way into your drinking water, according to Jerry Zona, director of the Lawrence-Mercer County Recycling/Solid Waste department.

    April 22, 2014

  • David Sykes' solar panels Earthworks

    While touring Germany last year, David Sykes spotted solar panels resting in a residential back yard.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Burned using Icy Hot, woman claims

    A Grove City woman has sued Chattem Inc. and Rite Aid of Pennsylvania Inc., alleging she suffered a second-degree chemical burn using one of Chattem’s Icy Hot pain relief products.

    April 21, 2014

  • Family outing Family friendly

    “We’re No. 5’’ isn’t a sports cheer you’ll hear any time soon.
    But considering the lumps the greater area has gotten over the years on economic rankings, it’s an outright victory.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo