2009-09-17 / Front Page

Two House Bills Seek To Levy PSP Patrol Fee

One would exempt all Fulton municipalities; the other would cost plenty

A bill, that if passed could cost Fulton County municipalities more than $2 million for Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) coverage in its third year, was reported out of committee last week, then removed from the table and re-committed to the Appropriations committee.

House Bill 1500 would impose a fee on municipalities for patrol services provided by the PSP. As reported in last week's "News," such a bill would cost Ayr, the county's largest township $103,064 in the first year, $206,128 in the second year and $309,192 in the third and subsequent years. It would cost Valley-Hi Borough, the county's smallest borough, $3,120 in the third and subsequent years. The bill calls for a fee of $52 per person per year for the first year; $104 per person per year for the second year; and $156 per person per year for the third and all subsequent years and would affect all of Fulton County's townships and boroughs because none have a municipal or regional police force and rely on the PSP for patrol coverage. Mc- Connellsburg abolished its municipal police force at the end of 2008 and now relies solely on PSP coverage.

In addition to HB 1500, which appears to be moving slowly through the Legislature, another bill would exempt all municipalities and boroughs in the county from any cost for the police services. House Bill 1320 seeks to establish a fee service for PSP services but exempts municipalities having a population of 10,000 or less from paying fees for the services. Fulton County has no municipalities with a population of more than 10,000. Ayr, the county's largest township has a population of 1,982. HB 1320 was referred to the Local Government Committee in late April and has not been considered by the committee.

In discussing HB 1500, Cory Adams, the PA State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS) legal analyst, said HB 1500 has the potential to affect more than 1,200 communities in the state. PSATS opposes both bills, Adams said, "Because if these communities are forced to pay an additional tax to the commonwealth or to provide police services, these affected municipalities would have to raise property taxes considerably."

Municipalities with their own full-time police force would be exempt from the fees, while those with part-time forces would pay a reduced fee.

When asked about either or both bills' chances of passage, Adams said, "It's difficult to tell. HB 1500's cost breakdown is not based on the actual cost of the state police in providing local patrol services." Adams went on to say, "In fact, in the 12 plus years since this issue was first proposed, no actual cost breakdown has ever been presented. It appears that the bill sponsors want to raise more than $500 million to replace the state police allocation in the state's Motor License Fund. This would give PennDOT an additional $500 million annually."

PSATS is urging all townships in the state to contact their legislators to voice opposition to both bills.

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