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PA Debates Proposed Per Resident Fee For Small Towns Without Police Forces

CITY HALL (CBS) -- If a measure pushed by Governor Tom Wolf, as well as some state lawmakers becomes law, small towns without dedicated police forces would be charged for the use of Pennsylvania State Police.

The Chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, State Representative Mike Sturla of Lancaster said about 80 percent of taxpayers in the Commonwealth pay for local police forces.

"Most municipalities that have a local police department pay between $150 and $350 per capita for that local police protection," Sturla said.

He said about half of the 2500 municipalities in the Commonwealth representing the remaining 20 percent of the population are getting an enormous bargain, essentially free protection, relying on State Police. He's been pushing for a good 15-years to assess a per-resident fee on municipalities that do not employ any local police.

"The governor's proposal of charging $25 a head would generate about $63-million."

Sturla said he's fine with state police cruising by every now and then in those municipalities.

"I don't think that I should have to pay for their police protection and the local municipality that I live in also."

Last year, the state took $812-million out of the Motor License Fund to help pay for those state police services. The fund is supposed to pay for the construction and repair of roads, highways and bridges.

Secretary Leslie Richards of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation says she's grateful that Governor Wolf and the legislature will cap that, and decrease that amount by 4 percent a year to "better balance state police needs with ongoing highway and bridge needs."

"Because of that movement forward, we at PennDot will have $2.1-billion over the next ten-years that we can invest into maintenance and preservation," Richards said.

Ernie McNeely, Manager of Lower Merion Township, who also represents the Pa State Association of Township Commissioners said it's a "matter of equity and fairness on several levels."

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