Wolf: Municipalities that rely solely on State Police should share in cost

Tony Romeo
June 11, 2019 - 1:25 pm
Gov. Tom Wolf

The Office of Governor Tom Wolf via Flickr

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Legislation has been introduced to enact Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest proposal, which would require municipalities that rely on Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) coverage to share in the cost. But it appears backers of the proposal still face an uphill battle.

The proposal would require municipalities without their own police departments, which rely solely on PSP for a local police force, to join in funding the PSP with a "reasonable fee."

Wolf has created a sliding scale for what those municipalities would pay per capita, with smaller communities paying less per person. It ranges from $8 per capita for a population of up to 2,000, to $166 per capita for populations over 20,000.

“We all want safe communities,” Wolf said in a press release. “That means adequate police protection and structurally sound roads and bridges. But right now, some municipalities are not paying their fair share for police protection, and to compensate for that deficit, money is being taken from the Motor License Fund that would otherwise go to our roads and bridges.”

During a news conference on Tuesday to roll out the fee legislation, Allegheny County Democrat Jay Costa, the Senate minority leader, suggested the proposal may fare better this time.

"A couple of things are different," he said. "First and foremost, I think we have a whole different composition of our General Assembly today."

Tony Romeo/KYW Newsradio

The Wolf administration estimates the fee would raise $104 million for PSP in its first year.

But Republicans still control both chambers, and Mike Straub, the spokesman for the House majority leader, said the fee remains a tough sell in his caucus.

"Nothing has drastically changed in terms of position from the leadership’s office on this at this time," he added.

Straub said negotiations will continue on this issue — outlined in House Bill 959 and Senate Bill 741 — as the budget deadline approaches on June 30.