Coal Township set to hold informal discussion on regional police coverage
COAL TOWNSHIP - An informational meeting on the potential regionalization of municipal police coverage will be held this month with local and state officials.
The meeting with Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) will be held at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Coal Township Municipal Building, 805 W. Lynn St.
Invitations were sent by the township on Jan. 28 to officials from neighboring communities: Shamokin, Mount Carmel, Mount Carmel Township, Kulpmont, Ralpho Township and Zerbe Township.
The meeting is strictly informational. Discussions will be had on the parameters of a potential DCED study on the matter, and an informal assessment made of which municipalities would be interested in participating.
Coal Township Manager Rob Slaby said Tuesday during a commissioners workshop session that the study would be free of charge.
The meeting comes as municipalities are met with continually rising costs for employee health benefits and pension contributions, and as police coverage largely remains the most expensive service provided to taxpayers.
Commissioner Gene Welsh asked about a load of rock salt the township covered on neighboring Shamokin's behalf.
The township paid $5,195.78 for 91.17 tons of rock salt from American Rock Salt. The city's rocky finances entering 2014 led distributors to stop giving it credit for such purchases. City officials asked the township to make the purchase on their behalf so that the material would be on hand for the recent and forthcoming string of snowy weather.
Slaby said the bill was sent Tuesday to City Hall and that he expected city council to approve it during its monthly meeting Monday. Payment was expected the next day, he said.
Welsh said the township commissioners should ratify the expenditure at their own monthly meeting on Thursday.
William Kuzmick, township roadmaster, told commissioners that snow piled high at intersections could pose a hazard to motorists. When the snow melts, it can block storm drains located on the corners of township blocks. It could also melt and freeze at intersections, posing another hazard.
Commissioner Paul Leshinskie said anyone observed creating large snow piles at intersections could be cited.
Police Chief William Carpenter updated commissioners on a required upgrade of police radio equipment.
Northumberland County is under federal mandate to upgrade its emergency communications system. A $7.2 million contract was awarded in June to Motorola Solutions to enhance the two-way wireless communications system that includes new tower site equipment and mobile and portable radios and pagers for fire and emergency medical services personnel in the current coverage area.
"Everybody at the meeting were all in the same boat: nobody is getting mobile units, nobody can afford them," Carpenter said.
The police chief said a Motorola representative quoted the portable radios at $2,600 each, but that the price would drop to $2,000 each for the trade-in of an old unit and if multiple county municipalities purchase the equipment through Motorola.
Carpenter told the commissioners that other manufacturers' equipment is compatible with the Motorola system, and that it could be cheaper; however, potential upgrades could offset the savings.
Also, he said the Motorola representative advised municipalities that they look into purchasing a higher tier of portable radio. The lower tier would also be compatible but is likely to be phased out of the system within three years.
It's unlikely that the new system and radios would be online earlier than August, and no firm date is yet in place, Carpenter said.