By Meagen Finnerty
Herald Staff Writer
SHARON, FARRELL —
Sharon City Manager Scott Andrejchak isn’t keeping his meetings with Farrell City Manager Michael Ceci secret.
Private discussions over the last few months between he and Ceci have been necessary before either of them know whether they’ll be presenting their councils with cooperative options on police and fire services.
“There’s no veil here,” Andrejchak said. “It’s just a discussion and that’s good. That’s what we’re supposed to do.”
The city managers have been looking at how the two communities can each save money by cooperating together.
Ceci has been looking to save money with police services, currently obtained through Mercer County Southwest Regional Police Department at a rate of about $1.2 million.
Andrejchak is looking to save money in fire services, currently costing about $1.5 million.
“City of Farrell and City of Sharon have been having a discussion for a while of how we can have people cooperate, police and fire,” Andrejchak said.
The main topics center on the possibilities of Sharon contracting out police services to Farrell, and Farrell providing fire services to Sharon.
“None of this is really new, at least not for fire,” Andrejchak said.
The two fire stations already respond to each other’s calls automatically.
“Is there a way in which we could cooperate that’s for a mutual benefit?” Andrejchak asked. “I think intuitively, people, including myself, think the answer to that would be yes.”
He wants the public to be aware that discussions are going on, but said there won’t be much number crunching or any solid plans to present to either council until they decide if anything makes sense financially and in terms of effects on the communities.
“If it makes sense for everyone and the stars align, we’ll have a bigger discussion,” Andrejchak said.
That first decision should be made in the next month and will determine whether the managers move any further with plans.
Ceci hopes to have preliminary numbers before Farrell’s council meeting at the end of July.
“If those numbers look right at that point, that’s what I’d take to my council,” he said.
Ceci also is waiting for numbers from the Southwest Regional commission that show potential structures if other communities pull out.
The department currently includes Farrell, Shenango Township, West Middlesex and Wheatland.
Shenango Township supervisors voted to begin advertising for a police chief for a separate department at their last meeting, but haven’t yet voted to submit notice that the community is leaving the regional department.
“This whole thing might be for naught” if the regional department manages to stay together, Ceci said.
But, if it does continue on with Farrell as a member and nothing comes of the discussions, Andrejchak asked, “What’s been lost?”