The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

December 11, 2013

Regional police seek 3% increase

SHENANGO VALLEY — The member communities of Southwest Mercer County Regional Police Department are being asked to increase their annual assessments by 3 percent in the department’s 2014 budget.

The assessments make up more than 85 percent of the department’s revenue.

If the communities approve the hikes, Farrell would pay nearly $1.25 million, Wheatland just more than $133,000, West Middlesex above $143,000 and Shenango Township more than $512,000.

The police commission will be asked to approve the budget Tuesday, although the figures will be slightly changed from what they were presented last month.

The commission members had received a $2,296,972 spending plan, a 2.2 percent increase over this year’s.

However, officials have been revising the numbers with updated information on insurances and vehicle leases, said Thomas R. Tulip, president of the commission’s board.

Tulip added that officials are working to finalize an agreement to have off-duty Southwest police work security at the hospital of Sharon Regional Health System to fill in when Sharon policemen cannot be available.

The arrangement has been sought in response to the knife attack on a hospital employee, who was critically injured while on duty.

In major expenses, the police will receive 2.2 percent wage hikes under the terms of their contract, and health care premiums are expected to rise by 6.5 percent, Tulip said. The health care expenses actually benefited from several retirees reaching the age of 65, meaning Medicare will become their main source of health insurance, relieving the department of that responsibility.

Although overtime and part-time salaries and fuel costs remain difficult to predict, the department should end this year about where it expected when it adopted the last budget, Tulip said.

“We’re on schedule, on budget, for 2013,” he said.

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