PA Governor Floats Pay-to-Play Fee for State Police Protection

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Should Pennsylvania towns that rely on state police for routine patrols pay a special fee of $25-per-resident for that service? Gov. Tom Wolf has floated that idea to help close a $3 billion budget deficit and to fund new hires of troopers, reports Nearly half of Pennsylvania’s 2,500 municipalities rely solely on state police protection. Critics of the arrangement say some of these communities are able to afford their own police forces and have instead taken advantage of an outdated system. They argue that taxpayers statewide have been forced to subsidize those services — often while also paying for their own local cops.

Towns that use state police say the trade-off is slower response times and often fewer available officers. The two largest municipalities that use state police, Lower Macungie Township in Lehigh County and Hempfield Township in Westmoreland County, both have median incomes above the state average. Under Wolf’s proposal, the townships would have to pay the state $25 per resident, or about $790,000 and $1 million in 2017, respectively, for state police services going forward. For context, their budgets totaled $13 million and nearly $15 million in 2016.

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