Updated Feb 20, 2019; Posted Feb 06, 2019
Municipalities that currently rely on state police for full-time coverage would need to pay the state a per-resident fee for those services — as much as $166 for the largest communities — under Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2019 budget proposal.
The idea of charging towns for state police protection has been kicking around the statehouse for years. In 2017, the Wolf administration put forward a one-size-fits-all fee that drew the ire of many small, cash-strapped communities.
This time out, the governor replaced that idea with a sliding scale in which municipalities with fewer than 2,000 residents pay $8 per person and those with more than 20,000 must pay $166.
More than half of Pennsylvania’s 2,500 municipalities would be subject to the fee, according to the state police, and that list continues to grow. Nine joined the roster in the last two years as local officials, like everyone else, search for ways to cut costs.
A PennLive analysis of police and U.S. Census data shows that if Wolf’s proposal were to be enacted, the state would collect $109.1 million from 1,297 municipalities. The 2019-20 proposed budget calls for the measure to bring in $103.9 million. That would help fund three cadet classes for the state police, which is facing down a glut of retirements and increasing demand for troopers.
David Kennedy, president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, said in a written statement that the group supports “any effort to fund cadet classes in order to avert a staffing crisis.”
Impacted municipalities would face some tough decisions, however, because the proposed state police fee represents a significant portion of their annual budgets.