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Alle-Kiski Valley police merger study remains in limbo

| Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, 1:06 a.m.

A police force merger study involving four Alle-Kiski Valley towns was proposed in March, but the state was never formally asked to do the evaluation.

Last spring, Springdale, Cheswick, Springdale Township and East Deer took local action clearing the way for the state Department of Community and Economic Development's Center for Local Government Services to perform a police merger study.

A previous study by the state was done in 2005 but nothing came of it.

Cheswick was among the communities to vote in March to take part in the latest study.

Since then, though, Cheswick officials have been investigating the feasibility of contracting the borough's police protection.

Cheswick is considering proposals from Harmar, Springdale and Springdale Township.

“I don't see how we will come up with a different plan than in 2005,” Mayor Daniel Carroll said at that time. “The last study had our services going down and prices going up.”

In March, Springdale Councilman John Molnar endorsed a study to update a 2005 state consolidation study.

“The idea fell apart,” he said last week. “The study didn't go forward.”

Molnar said the idea was shelved because of police wage rate differences among the departments and focus on infrastructure projects such as at the water treatment plant and sewer lines.

Last spring, Springdale Township Commissioner Chairman George Manning questioned the need for an updated state study because the same ground was plowed in 2005.

Manning last week said the township wasn't officially asked to take part in the new proposed study.

Theresa Elliott, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, said each study costs at least $2,000, depending on how much work is needed.

The goal is to save taxpayer money.

Although officials talked about a study last year, no formal request was made to the department, she said.

Elliott said the Center for Local Government has done about 35 such studies in the past three years.

If communities vote to merge departments, then the state has a grant program to pay about $90,000 toward the new chief's salary for three years.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or cbiedka@tribweb.com.

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