East Petersburg Borough will pay nearly 39 percent more for police services in 2019 under a new one-year contract with Manheim Township.
The borough has budgeted $910,000 for police services, up from $656,000 this year.
“If you’re providing a service, which we are, you have to pass along the cost of doing the business,” Manheim Township Commissioner Albert Kling said.
That, he said, hasn’t happened in the contract that is expiring, as increasing policing costs have outpaced East Petersburg’s share, particularly because of burgeoning technologies such as body cameras, new radios and improved car technology.
East Petersburg’s 2019 police cost amounts to 40 percent of the borough’s entire $2.3 million budget, which, along with the new police contract, was approved Dec. 4.
The budget includes a 73 percent increase in the real estate tax in 2019, pushing the rate from 2.747 mills to 4.747 mills.
While Manheim Township increases its fees for police coverage to offset rising technology costs, East Petersburg officials are left wondering what lies ahead after 2019.
“The cost is a very large factor,” borough council President Cathleen Panus said at the Dec. 4 meeting. “But we also have to look at the borough and what kind of services we need for our borough.”
Panus could not be reached for additional comment Thursday.
Next year, East Petersburg could renew its contract with Manheim Township into 2020 or beyond, switch to state police coverage or bring back its own force.
Howard Rogers, 67, who grew up in East Petersburg, prefers the latter.
“I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to get our own police force,” said Rogers, a retired supervisor with Lancaster Elevators.
The borough has utilized Manheim Township police since 1975 — a mistake, in Rogers’ opinion.
“I thought that was the wrong thing to do from the get-go,” he said.
But, as Manheim Township’s Kling might tell you, a police force isn’t cheap.
Manheim Township’s costs
Manheim Township budgeted $12.2 million for police in 2019. That’s nearly $2 million more than what the township paid in 2015. And, such as in East Petersburg’s case, police services in 2019 take up nearly half of Manheim Township’s $26.8 million budget.
Manheim Township police also cover Lancaster Township, whose current budget includes about $1.8 million for policing.
Lancaster Township is in the midst of a 10-year police contract with Manheim Township.
Kling said he suspects “whoever’s in charge at that time” would make “some adjustments” to the deal when the contract with Lancaster Township expires in 2024.
Lancaster Township Manager Bill Laudien said he has “no idea the circumstances” of East Petersburg’s contract.
“All I know is we have a good, fair contract and a good relationship (with Manheim Township),” he said in an email. “I can’t see why anyone would be interested in messing with a good thing.”
LNP correspondent Amanda Schaedler contributed to this report.