Fee for state police coverage part of budget proposal

Pennsylvania State Police provide the sole law enforcement coverage for half of the state's municipalities, and soon, those places could have to pay more. That's if Gov. Tom Wolf's new budget plan becomes reality.

Under Wolf's proposal unveiled Tuesday, communities like Lower Macungie Township in Lehigh County could pay a $25 fee for state police protection because they don't have their own police force.

"Nothing else in life is free, so this isn't either," Wolf said. "The problem is the money to pay for those extra services each year that a municipality decides they want to take advantage of that. It's actually coming out of Act 89 money, and that's money that was originally intended to build new bridges or or fix bridges, build roads fix roads."

Wolf said the move could raise $50 million to $65 million.

Lower Macungie Township Commissioner Brian Higgins said he feels the proposal passes the buck.

"The residents of Lower Macungie Township are already paying for state police coverage through their taxes," Higgins said.

He said the idea isn't new, but the fee in the past was much higher, so he said the $25 fee, for a little more than 30,000 residents, could be feasible for the township.    

"That would result in about a charge of somewhere between $750,000 and $800,000 to Lower Macungie Township, which would be factored into our budget," Higgins said.

So how will it affect people who live there?

"We may have to cut back on other parts of our budget," Higgins said. "We may not be able to do as many capital projects as we do now, but it would be my hope that it wouldn't impact the taxpayer at all.

He said the township is in good financial shape, so the fee for state police may not affect the people who live there as much as other municipalities.

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