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Seward officials discuss regionalized police force

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The issue of regionalization for the local police forces is not a new idea in the area. In fact, surveys have been conducted in years past to only see a neighboring township and borough reluctantly or outright pass on the idea.

However, at the August Seward Borough Council meeting, Dennis Rudnick presented a daunting picture of what may occur in the future affecting taxpayers financially should the police forces not move forward in a concerted and concrete effort to solve the coverage for the tri-communities of Seward Borough, St. Clair Township and New Florence Borough.

Rudnick, who chairs a committee the borough approved several months ago at a meeting to address the issue of regionalization for the police forces, gave an overview of a recent meeting with a Harrisburg representative that sounded a need for resolving the matter sooner rather than later.

Ron Stern, Local Government Specialist from the Governor's Center for Local Government Services through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development in Harrisburg, told Rudnick, council members and committee members that there is a proposal underway that would impose a ‘state police tax' in the figure of approximately $155-$160 per year, per resident if there is not enough police coverage in the community in an ongoing basis and calls would then need to be forwarded to the state police for coverage.

Rudnick said “just for Seward Borough, I estimated that figure per person would amount to $285,000 for the community alone.”

Rudnick also indicated he would be attending St. Clair Township's monthly meeting as well as New Florence Borough's with the same message from the Harrisburg official.

In other business:

• The veteran memorial committee successfully raised the monies to install the new veterans monument at 10 a.m. Sept. 2, in Seward's Memorial Park.

“This unveiling of the monument, coinciding with Labor Day, will include state and local representatives, guest speakers and the whole town is invited to join with us in this moment of community pride,” said Councilwoman Fran Hajjar. “We raised monies to cover the total cost of the monument, materials needed for installing its foundation and two wonderful banners to be placed on light poles in the park near the monument. We want to continue our community pride efforts by installing more patriotic-themed banners throughout Seward in the future and would welcome any and all donations toward that project as well.”

Many volunteer hours were spent by the veterans memorial committee since its inception last year as well as volunteers who gave of their time to construct the foundation for the monument.

• Seward Volunteer Fire Chief Alan Shetler reported on a recent audit of the fire company to determine the company's readiness of updated equipment and volunteers necessary to handle calls. The audit, conducted every decade or so, is done so it can provide a rating for insurance companies who will, in turn, determine the cost of fire insurance on the homes insured in the Seward Borough. Fire Chief Shetler reported that he has reviewed his files for the past year and is providing the necessary paperwork to lock in a fire suppression rating that is justified for the Seward Borough area. It is important that this audit be conducted accurately and fairly so that it would not allow insurers to increase the cost of fire insurance if the local fire company falls below its projected rating.

• Mayor Tony Hajjar reported that bids will be going out for paving on Wilson, Cherry and part of Ninth Street near the fire hall. In addition, certain drain repair will also occur in these areas as needed.

Alice White is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.