Our opinion: A deal too good to be true

You already pay for Pennsylvania State Police protection with the taxes and some fees you pay to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A proposal once again under consideration by some state legislators could result in an increase in your local taxes to pay for the State Police, too.

It’s not surprising, really, that House Reps. Tim Brennan and Michael Sturla want to study the idea of a fee on municipalities that don’t have their own police force. Sturla initially proposed a fee on municipalities without a local police force back in the 2017-18 legislative session before the idea faded away. It’s come back since like a bad penny every couple of years. This year, Sturla and Brennan aren’t proposing a fee – they just want the state to commission a study to update Sturla’s numbers gathered back in 2017-18.

Most townships and boroughs in Warren County don’t have their own police force, so a fee for State Police coverage is something many residents here should pay attention to if and when it is formally proposed again. One reason rural areas rely on the State Police is it’s not cheap to have a police force, and the lack of tax base in many areas of the county makes a full- or part-time local police force a financial impossibility. That’s especially true for areas of the county that have just lost more tax assessment through the state Game Commission’s decision to purchase more land.

Our question is this – what would rural Pennsylvanians get for the local fee Sturla thinks they should pay? Will they get additional patrols? Will they get State Police in and around their schools to act as school resource officers? Will they get faster response times when an incident happens? Will the state hire more troopers? Or will it be the same coverage rural residents already get, but now at a much higher cost?

Those questions have never been answered – because the state lawmakers who favor a fee State Police services don’t really care about public safety, they care about making sure they’re not approving a state tax increase that will bite them at election time.

Sturla and Brennan aren’t talking about public safety, they’re talking about accounting. It’s the wrong discussion to have.


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