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West York council discusses disbanding police

Written by Susan Cherie Beam/ York Daily Record/Sunday News | Aug 18, 2015 11:27 AM
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(West York) -- A heated discussion broke out at the West York Borough council meeting meeting as board members weighed different options for balancing the financially-strapped borough's budget, including disbanding police department, a suggestion which provoked outcry from audience members.

The borough is currently operating with an 18 percent deficit, about $500,000, and borough council members have been asked to propose different solutions to not only fix the deficit problem but strategically plan for the borough's long-term financial health.

Suggestions included removing janitorial service from the borough office, putting more parking meters in around the borough and raising property taxes anywhere from 2 mills to 5 mills for next year.

According council President Garrett Wampler, the borough police department is one of the costliest expenditures, with a yearly budget of $1.3 million, including salaries, overtime costs and pensions.

By comparison, the borough fire department has a yearly operating cost of about $317,000 and the West York highway department has a yearly budget of $167,000 dollars.

Wampler said by possibly buying out the police contract and contracting an outside police force, the borough would see projected financial gain both in the short- and long-term.

He also expressed concern that with the borough's current budget, the borough is unable to provide the police department with necessary upgrades.

"We cannot afford to put them in the proper equipment and with the proper vehicles," he said.

Borough residents in the audience loudly expressed their concern over the possible loss of their local police force.

Borough resident Ken Welsh, when asked by Wampler if he would be willing to pay an additional $450 dollars per year in taxes to keep the police department, replied, "I don't care what I pay. I'll make the money to do it."

West York Borough patrolman Scott Musselman, present at the meeting, suggested that the council meet with the police union with suggestions regarding how the present contract could be revised to lower operating costs.

The present police contract was accepted by the council with a 4-2 vote in March 2013 after reducing operating costs from $1.48 million dollars to the current $1.28 million dollars.

At the time, the council shredded unopened proposals for police service from both York City and Northern York County Regional.

As the meeting ended, Wampler requested the council to come prepared with budget solutions to the next workshop meeting Sept. 28. The council will meet next on Sept.14.

"Don't just come with ideas," Wampler said. "Come with numbers."

 

This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF.

 

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