Cheswick considers 3 police proposals
By Tom Yerace
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 1:41 a.m.
Cheswick Council began weighing neighboring communities' proposals for providing police service but isn't ready to make a decision.
On Tuesday night, council discussed the proposals submitted by Springdale, Springdale Township and Harmar.
Deciding which, if any, they will choose won't happen before they tour each police department and meet with the officials in those communities.
Cheswick's police department is down to only one full-time officer, Chief Bob Scott, and several part-time officers.
Council has been pondering if it is financially feasible to continue the borough's police department or whether to shut it down.
It sought requests for proposals on police service to see if that option makes more financial sense. The 2012 borough budget allocated about $361,000 for police.
Having 24/7 police coverage with an officer stationed in the borough is key in council's consideration of the proposals as well as costs.
Harmar submitted two proposals. The one that comes closest to providing what Cheswick wants would cost $292,000 in the first year of the five-year contract. By the fifth year the cost would rise to $299,000.
The other plan, which Harmar officials characterized as more affordable, would not station an officer in Cheswick. But Harmar officials said including the borough in one of its patrol zones would still maintain the average three-minute response time.
That plan would cost $168,000 in the first year and $173,400 in the fifth year.
Councilman Frank Meledandri didn't think that secondary plan would meet the borough's needs while the cost of the other plan doesn't seem to save enough money, especially the ongoing police pension costs Cheswick has to bear are added.
“What scares me is Harmar really went into the details,” Meledandri said, “and what they came up with is close to what we're spending now.”
Springdale Township provided the lowest cost. Its proposal is $150,000 the first year and would rise by $1,000 per year to $154,000 in the fifth year.
The proposal from Springdale Borough would start at $218,000 in the first year then jump to $234,000 the second year, $240,000 the third year, $247,000 the fourth year and in the fifth year the cost would jump by $11,000 to $258,000.
Council seemed to favor Springdale Borough's proposal the most.
While noting that Springdale Township came in with the lowest cost, Councilman Jonathan Skedel said, “They didn't give us what we were asking for. This is more of an on-call situation.”
The Springdale Borough proposal said an officer and vehicle would remain in Cheswick unless called on to assist other departments.
In addition, it said a three-member committee would be formed with two council members from Springdale and one from Cheswick, to oversee police services.
Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or email@example.com.
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