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August 20, 2013

Two boroughs could be getting Windber police coverage

WINDBER — When Windber’s police department goes back on duty next year it might bring two neighboring communities into the fold.

Paint and Scalp Level boroughs have both approached Windber about the possibility of police coverage next year.

It’s an option that council is willing to consider, Borough Manager Fred Oliveros said.

“We’re going to try to get them some estimates and proposals,” he said Monday, noting that Paint Borough has sent a letter of interest. “At this point, it’s been fairly informal. It’s too soon for council to take any action.”

Scalp Level officials said last month they were hopeful Windber would be able to patrol their streets next year, but Oliveros and Scalp Level Councilwoman Noretta Haydu both have said it will depend on the price for coverage.

Ideally, Windber would likely keep contract prices similar to what the communities currently pay Paint Township, Oliveros said.

He added that council still faces many unknowns when it comes to its police force costs.

Among them: negotiating a contract with the officers.

Then there’s the cost of adding patrol cars and other equipment.

And the borough is still working toward a lease on an office in town to house the police station – another expense that remains in flux.

“That’s still up in the air right now, but we’re moving forward,” Oliveros said, adding he does not yet want to identify the property because it’s not yet in the borough’s hands.

The site’s owner is working on estimates for renovations Windber officials have suggested. Among the needs: several office partitions and heating and air conditioning improvements, Oliveros said.

He said council met in an executive session last week to discuss recent developments with the property.

“We don’t need the Taj Mahal, so we’re not expecting renovations to (make) a big difference in our estimates,” he added.

Borough Council gave Oliveros approval in July to continue taking steps to re-forming Windber’s police force without the need for ongoing votes.

Other actions will still require board action though, including finalizing deals with towns like Scalp Level or Paint if they want coverage, he added.

All three communities are currently covered by Paint Township, which is weighing whether it will continue providing outside police coverage next year.

The township has been working to overcome spending issues that forced a 6 mill increase earlier this year.

Reporter David Hurst covers the Windber area for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.

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