The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

February 24, 2013

Many municipalities in the region seem receptive to shared services

JOHNSTOWN — Trying to figure out how to pay for police forces, plow trucks, maintenance workers, boom mowers, grant writers, building materials and all of the other things needed to make a municipality function is challenging for every local government.

Facing that common struggle has brought some boroughs, townships and cities together.

In order to cut costs, officials from different governing bodies occasionally pool funds to purchase an expensive piece of equipment and then share it.

Or, in other cases, they form regionalized organizations, such as police forces and ambulance services, to help protect citizens.

The shared services often are seen as a way for municipalities to financially survive during these lean economic times.

“What’s going to drive people to the table – it seems to me – is budget concerns,” said David Knepper, executive director of the Forest Hills Regional Alliance.

The original confederation, consisting of Adams Township, Croyle Township, Ehrenfeld Borough, South Fork Borough, Summerhill Borough, Summerhill Township and Wilmore Borough, had a comprehensive plan completed by The EADS Group in 2010. It analyzed numerous aspects of the Forest Hills region, including image presentation, population trends, use of natural resources, infrastructure and targeted development. Some common perceived issues throughout the municipalities were police protection, declining tax bases and land use.

A previous attempt at creating a regional police department failed.

Knepper said the group plans to try again in the near future.

Meanwhile, regional police forces already exist in other local areas.

The West Hills Regional Police Department provides 24-hour-per-day protection to Westmont Borough, Brownstown Borough, Southmont Borough and Lower Yoder Township. It was formed in 1978. The department consists of 11 full-time and eight part-time officers, along with seven vehicles.

The budget is approximately $1 million annually.

“I see where the municipal officials work together closely. … I think it allows your politicians to work better with each other,” said West Hills Chief Andrew Havas.

Similarly, Paint Township Police Department not only covers that municipality, but also Benson Borough, Central City Borough, Paint Borough, Scalp Level Borough and Windber Borough, with 18 officers, including a full-time criminal investigator, and eight vehicles.

“A larger police department lets you become more proactive instead of just reacting to everything,” said Paint Chief Rick Skiles.

Being interconnected, however, can lead to difficulties.

In 2012, Paint Township faced a dire financial situation, created from years of deficit spending, that almost resulted in the police force being closed, which would have impacted the surrounding communities. This year, Paint Township will contribute approximately $315,000 toward the force’s total operating budget of $826,000. The rest will come from the other participants.

Some Paint Township residents have been vocal in their opinion that the regional force should be disbanded. Participants in the regional force are currently discussing the possibility of turning over control of the department to a yet-to-be-created independent committee, consisting of representatives from each municipality.

Two other Somerset townships – Shade and Conemaugh – are exploring the possibility of joining the regional department.

A similar shared police service arrangement between Portage Township and Portage Borough was proposed in 2011.

Township residents overwhelmingly opposed a contract to pay $89,000 per year for protection provided by Portage Borough police officers. About 1,000 people signed a petition against the plan. Soon after the idea was rejected, borough police stopped supplying any coverage to the township.

“If it was that adamant that they didn’t want to pay for any type of service, there was no reason to service them,” said Portage Borough Manager Robert Koban.

Portage Borough police will now only respond to an incident in the township if an officer from the Pennsylvania State Police or other department is in danger.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • City seeks support for sewer revamp

    The city is looking for backup from the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority in spreading what they call “true” facts and figures regarding the city’s encompassing sewer revamp.

    April 15, 2014

  • Airport gets lift with $180G grant

    The John Murtha Johnstown–Cambria County Airport needs to replace some basic maintenance equipment: a pickup truck, painting machine, chain saw, weed eater, hand tools and more.
    So, on Tuesday, the airport’s authority agreed to accept Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation grant money that already has been tentatively allocated.

    April 15, 2014

  • Cresson asks court to force ex-chief to sign pact

    An agreement reached more than a month ago between Cresson Borough Council and its former police chief still has not been signed, and the borough is asking a judge to intervene.

    April 15, 2014

  • hamer 16 Mom told to seek help for addiction

    A Johnstown woman charged with tossing her 4-month-old baby and with drug-related offenses pleaded guilty and was sentenced in Cambria County court on Tuesday.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Elder justice events set

    In an effort to combat elder abuse in area communities, an elder justice seminar will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 24 at the Johnstown Senior Center, 550 Main St., downtown Johnstown. In addition, a free elder abuse clergy training seminar will be held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. April 25 at Moxham Lutheran Church, 500 Park Ave., Johnstown.

    April 15, 2014

  • Local briefs 4/16/2014

    April 15, 2014

  • bomb1 VIDEO | A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Freeh gets expedited appeal in Penn State lawsuit

    April 15, 2014


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads