WEST MIDDLESEX – Faced with a “take-it-or-leave-it” offer from Shenango Township for a new police contract, West Middlesex Borough Council expressed an interest in continuing negotiations.
But their township counterparts say there is nothing to discuss.
Shenango Township police patrol West Middlesex borough under a contract between the two municipalities. But that five-year pact expires Dec. 31.
Borough officials called a special meeting Wednesday, anticipating that they would be able to consider a new proposal. Instead, Shenango Township supervisors announced Aug. 20 at their own session that their most recent offer would be their final offer.
Representatives of the borough and the township have not revealed particulars in the proposed deal.
During the West Middlesex meeting, Mayor Debra LaRouche called for public input.
“How do they feel about a tax increase to retain Shenango Township as our police force?’’ she asked.
A woman in the audience responded with a quick, “Yes.’’
After the meeting, Councilman Bob Lark emphatically said the borough would not increase property taxes to accommodate a contract with Shenango Township.
“There’s not going to be a tax increase. There’s not going to be a tax increase,’’ he shouted. “There’s money in reserves for that.’’
In a quieter voice, Councilman Ron Preston said he agreed with Lark that there would be no tax increase. Gilkey didn’t comment on the tax question. But she did borough officials would seek to resume talks with Shenango Township.
But Hubert repeated this week that negotiations are finished.
“At our meeting last Thursday the supervisors discussed our police budget and where we would be in five years,’’ Hubert said. “We are comfortable with our offer and believe it is more than fair.’’
The issue of police protection in the borough raised questions for West Middlesex Area School District. With the school complex lying entirely within West Middlesex borough, the district could be left with the state police as its responding agency. With the contract in place, Shenango Township police helps provide a resource officer at the school.
District Superintendent Raymond Omer said Wednesday that he was concerned that the state police might not be able to respond quickly to a emergent issue at the school.