SPRINGFIELD TWP., Pa. (WKBN) – Some small towns in Western Pennsylvania could soon wind up paying out a lot of cash for help from the Pennsylvania State Police.
Springfield Township in Mercer County is home to the Grove City Premium Outlets and about 2,000 residents who depend on the state for their police protection. But what if each of those residents had to pay $25 for that service?
“I don’t know that it’s a bad idea, but where’s the money go?” questioned Joe Moore, who lives in the township with his wife and daughter. “Is it lining the governor’s pocket or does it actually go for the state police?”
Under the budget proposed by Governor Tom Wolf, each of them would have to pay the new fee as part of the plan to erase a $3 billion shortfall and add another hundred troopers to the force. Wolf said the $25 fee per person for those living in communities served by the Pennsylvania State Police would raise about $63 million.
“If they’re gonna have more state troopers, I don’t have a problem with it. If it’s going to pay off the budget, I got a real problem with it,” Moore said.
Without having to pay for police service, Springfield Township maintains a general fund budget of just $773,000 a year. If the governor has his way, the township and its residents would need to come up with another $50,000.
“We just successfully did our budget for the year, for 2017, and we did not allow $50,000 for an additional fee,” said Springfield Township Supervisor Dave Swartz. “So at that point now, if it’s going to be done immediately, we don’t know that yet but if it is, I don’t know where we’re going to get the $50,000.”
They wouldn’t be alone. Half of the commonwealth’s municipalities use the state police. In Mercer County alone. 27 of the 48 communities do — many of them with populations of only a couple thousand or less.
“We certainly need to look out for the smaller communities like the ones you mentioned in Mercer County,” Swartz said.
Democratic State Representative Mark Longietti said lawmakers are already looking to place limits on the governor’s plan.
“My sense is that you’re not gonna see enough support in the legislature for a proposal that doesn’t have some kind of a population threshold.”
The proposal still needs to be approved by the General Assembly.
In the meantime, local communities are left with a number of unanswered questions about how this new budget will affect them.