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December 11, 2013

Westmont wants neighbors to pitch in more for police force

JOHNSTOWN — Westmont Borough leaders will ask neighboring communities to ante up a little more toward the regional police operation in 2015.

“This is not set in stone,” council President Don Hall II said at Tuesday’s Borough Council meeting.  “This is opening a dialogue.”

Council’s finance committee chairman, Lee Williamson, said the formula for financing West Hills Regional Police Department does not adequately address Westmont’s additional expenses for housing the police headquarters.

“I think the formula is OK,” Williamson said. “We just need to revisit it.”

West Hills Regional Police Department was founded in 1978 by Westmont and Brownstown boroughs. Over the years, Southmont Borough and Lower Yoder Township joined the regional police department and were given seats on the overseeing West Hills Regional Police Commission.

Each municipality contributes according to a formula based, in part, on the municipality’s annual revenue, Hall said.

As times changed, the formula hasn’t kept up, Westmont’s leaders feel. They looked at police calls, crime reports and incidents and found the borough is supporting its neighbors.

“Westmont is paying about 52 percent of the cost, but we didn’t have 52 percent of the crime and issues that police deal with,” Hall said.

Council voted unanimously to ask the other commission members to consider tweaking the formula. Westmont will suggest meeting with its partners in time for 2015 budget workshops.

A new formula may be based on several factors. Funding can’t be based solely on a municipality’s revenue, or on its physical size, or on the number of incidents, Hall said.

There is no thought of disbanding the commission, he stressed.

“We don’t want to pull out of the police force,” Hall said.

“That conversation won’t be had.”

Randy Griffith covers Westmont for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

 

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