Friday, January 29, 2010

Fee Proposed for Some Towns That Use State Police

A PennsylvaniaHouse committee is preparing to take up a bill imposing fees on municipalities that rely on state police protection.
The idea isn’t new, and previous bills charging fees to local governments for state police protection haven’t gotten far. But House Local Government Committee Chairman Robert Freeman, a Northampton County Democrat, says another tough fiscal year will force lawmakers to find new revenue sources everywhere they can.
The panel will likely vote soon on a measure charging a hundred dollar-a-resident fee to municipalities with populations above 10-thousand who don’t have their own police forces. Freeman says it’s a matter of fairness.

"When you have communities of 34 or 40-thousand population there’s obviously a sufficient tax base to afford their own police force, and they rely on free state police services, there’s something wrong with that."

The measure’s sponsor, Armstrong County Democrat John Pallone, says the bill would generate 41 to 42 million dollars a year. He wants all of the revenue to go to the State Police, but Freeman says the bill will likely be amended before a vote.
Lawmakers who oppose the measure such as Representative Jerry Knowles, a Berks County Republican, says local governments don’t have the money to pay the proposed fee.

"It would mean dramatic tax increases. People are already paying enough taxes. It would be boggling. I was a local government official for many years. This would be boggling – it would be devastating to local government budgets."

But Lancaster County Republican Mike Sturla, who introduced a similar measure, says municipalities need to pay their fair share.

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