The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 29, 2012

Police pacts OK’d: Paint Borough, Central City to pay more

David Hurst
dhurst@tribdem.com

— Two communities relying on Paint Township for police coverage will likely pay more for it in the years to come.

Township officials approved deals with Paint Borough and Central City that will increase their fees by $4,600 each in 2013, and extend service through 2016.

The contracts, which still need approval by the boroughs, would have each paying $10,075 more than it now does over the life of the contract, Supervisor Joe Huff Jr. said.

The deal follows a 90-day period when Paint’s cash flow issues nearly forced it to shut the department. The township turned to the other municipalities it serves to advance funds to keep police on the street.

“Nobody has a crystal ball. But we’re able to go into these contracts better prepared this time,” Huff said, noting this is only the second contract with the neighboring towns. “We based (these contracts) on statistics – the time officers spend in these communities, the calls and other factors – so we feel good about what we came up with.”

Paint Borough now pays $31,600 per year. Central City pays $36,100.

Huff told residents worried that the township could underestimate its costs again that there’s “a little bit of a cushion factored in” to make sure that doesn’t happen.

And Paint Township, Central City and Paint Borough can re-examine the figures in September to ensure their estimates are on track, Supervisor Dave Blough added.

Board designees from all three communities and Windber met in a budget workshop Wednesday aimed at ensuring the regional department’s survival.

It’s an unpopular subject among the dozens of people who regularly pack Paint’s monthly meetings, but elected leaders have been outspoken in support of the regional force.

Windber council has set aside funds in its tentative 2013 budget indicating a willingness to pay a little more for police next year, even though it is currently under contract for it at $350,000.

The sides will likely be discussing a possible amendment soon, Huff said.

Paint Township, meanwhile, continues working on a more than $300,000 loan to bail itself out of its cash-flow crunch.

Huff said the board is leaning toward a five-year loan at about 4 percent with 1st Summit Bank, but nothing is final.

The loan would require a board-approved ordinance and court approval, township officials have said.

“Our solicitor is working on the paperwork,” he added.