Pennsylvania police protection costly for certain cities

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, August 01, 2013

Pennsylvania lawmakers will soon wrap up their summer break. One issue that could get attention when they return to the statehouse would give municipalities that rely on the state police for coverage a little less money for transportation work.

About two-thirds of the state’s 2,562 towns rely on full- or part-time patrolling from the Pennsylvania State Police. Revenue to pay for the service comes from the motor license fund. However, the affected communities do not pay more.

As a result, Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, said that more than three-quarters of Pennsylvanians are paying twice for law enforcement services.

“There’s no question that all Pennsylvania residents fund the state police through the taxes they pay, but it’s also true that a large majority – 79 percent – are paying for both the state police patrols in municipalities without a local police department, as well as their own local police services,” Sturla said in a recent news release.

He said it essentially amounts to municipalities that pay for local or regional police departments funding the services in municipalities that rely on troopers as their sole provider.

His bill would offset the patrol fee by decreasing the money the state gives to those municipalities from motor license revenue.

Sturla said the change would make available to the state about $560 million each year for road and bridge work.

“I challenge you to find another transportation funding proposal that finds this level of road and bridge funding and doesn’t increase state taxes,” Sturla wrote in a memo to lawmakers.

The bill – HB1143 – is in the House Transportation Committee. It can be considered as soon as late September.

A similar bill offered by Sturla would authorize a per capita fee to be paid by towns that rely solely, or partly, on the police force for patrols.

Municipalities that do not provide local police patrol services, and instead rely solely on the troopers, would pay a yearly $156 fee. Municipalities with part-time local departments would contribute $52 annually.

HB1017 is in the House Judiciary Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Pennsylvania, click here.

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