Negotiations between the three municipalities served by the Susquehanna Regional Police Department about how the cost of running the department should be shared have led to concerns that Conoy Township might pull out of the regional police force, but the chairman of Conoy Township’s supervisors emphasized that the township is committed to maintaining 24-hour police protection.
Conoy Township used to have its own police department before 1996, when the three municipalities decided to join forces.
Marietta Mayor Harold Kulman said at his borough’s meeting on Tuesday, May 8, that the police commission is proposing that Marietta and East Donegal pay a larger share of the costs to keep Conoy from dropping out of the regional police force.
Many yards in Conoy Township have signs in them marked “Keep SRPD in Conoy” and billboards have been posted with the message “Fighting to Proudly Serve You” and the initials of the police union, the Susquehanna Regional Police Association.
Conoy Supervisors John L. Shearer and Gina R. Mariani both spoke about the Susquehanna Regional Police Department during the Conoy Township meeting on Thursday, May 10.
“There is nobody more appreciative of the police force than the five people up here,” Shearer said, referring to himself and the four other supervisors.
Mariani, who is Conoy’s representative on the regional force, said there is a lot of misinformation being spread online and people do not understand what is going on because the township is still in negotiations. Conoy supervisors took no action on police at their meeting.
After the meeting, Conoy Supervisors Supervisors Chairman Stephen L. Mohr emailed the Advocate with more information, saying the three municipalities have been working for months to adjust the cost-sharing formula.
“Everyone wants the formula to be fair to all parties,” Mohr wrote. “Problem is there are different ideas of what should be included in the formula. In the past, miles of roadway, population and the number of police incidents, all were included in the formula. Some parties now think that other factors should be included and still others, road miles, should be excluded. The merger agreement must be signed soon as the police contract is up for negotiation and renewal.”
Mohr added that Conoy supervisors are committed to maintaining police coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but how much that will cost is the issue that has not been resolved.
Marietta Borough Council President Glen Mazis said at his borough’s meeting that if Conoy drops out, the agreement states it would be required to pay for an additional year and a 10 percent penalty.
Sharon Bradnick, Marietta Borough’s secretary/treasurer, said at the borough meeting that she crunched the numbers using a formula of the most recent survey results on population, number of police calls received during 2016 and 2017, and number of miles in the area. She said Marietta paid 17.29 percent of the total cost of regional police services, and she figured it should have been 17.99 percent. She said Conoy paid 25.73 percent of the total cost, and she figured it should have been 20.39 percent. She said East Donegal Township paid 56.98 percent of the total cost, and she figured it should have been 61.63 percent.
“We have been in meetings, and we have talked, and we said we feel comfortable with the 18 percent because it’s something Marietta can do,” Bradnick said.
Advocate Editor Dan Robrish reported the Conoy Township portion of this article; correspondent Nicole E. Matthews reported from Marietta Borough.