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Press Release July 3, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Hempfield, PA

Supervisor Weimer demands reasonable State Legislation for State Police Protection

Supervisor Weimer looks for help to “STOP House Bill 1500”

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, Hempfield Township and other local municipalities have been featured in news media stories regarding their reliance on the Pennsylvania State Police for maintaining public safety in their communities. State Police protection along with other State Services such as the maintenance of state roads in our municipality have been provided for generations, but with a State budget impasse at hand, services like State Police protection may come at a higher cost.

For the last several years, Rep. Pallone has tried to move HB747 through the House which proposes assessing municipalities such as Hempfield $100 per person for utilizing the State Police services. Last week, Rep. Sturla was able to push a similar bill HB 1500 through committees in the House and it appears to be on a fast track for a vote by members on the floor. This bill will have an even more significant impact on Hempfield Township since it will assess as much as $156 per person if it becomes legislation. With a population of approximately 40,000 residents, it will eventually cost Hempfield tax payers $6million per year to maintain current State Police coverage. This multimillion dollar fee would be far beyond what it would cost to maintain the current State Police coverage in the Township.

In part, because of legislation that might be imposed on Hempfield Township, the Board of Supervisors formed a Public Safety task Force to investigate the status of Pubic Safety in the Township including the reliance on the State Police. The committee has reported some of its findings at public meetings which indicate residents feel safe in their community and satisfied with State Police protection.

If legislation such as HB1500 forces Hempfield to pay for its State Police services, then the community and the Board of Supervisors will be faced with only a few options to maintain public safety. The Township can pay the fee for State Police coverage, create its own municipal police force or enter into a multi-municipal police force agreement in order to avoid the state levy. All of these options will cost Hempfield residents millions of additional tax dollars.

I recognize that the State is in a budget crisis and that they are looking for ways to maintain state services, but if they are asking local municipalities to assist with their utilization of services, then it should begin with the actual cost those services to the State incur for current usage. My former colleague and current State Senator Kim Ward has proposed a legislative option that will offer municipalities a choice in SB 984 to contract with the State Police for the level of coverage they desire. This Senate Bill represents reasonable legislation that HB 1500 does not. State Representatives Tim Krieger and Mike Reese are opposing HB1500 and also need our support in their efforts to create reasonable legislation.

I am asking all of you to contact your State Representatives offices as well as those of other State districts to tell them to STOP HB 1500 and look for reasonable solutions such as SB 984.

Sincerely,

Doug Weimer 

Hempfield Supervisor

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