SHAMOKIN - Two additional local municipalities will participate in a state study to survey the cost and benefits of a potential regional police force.

Shamokin City Council and Zerbe Township Board of Supervisors, during their regular meetings Monday, voted to join Coal Township in a study conducted by a branch of the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).

Coal Township commissioners approved a letter of intent last week.

The study will determine the financial costs of consolidating and operating a regional department, manpower needs and agency hierarchy.

City councilmen David Kinder and Charlie Verano raise questions about cost and commitment, to which Mayor William D. Milbrand said the study is free and non-binding.

Officials from Mount Carmel and Mount Carmel Township had also expressed interest during an informational meeting Feb. 19 at the Coal Township Municipal Building.

Once a letter of intent is authorized, a peer consultant will be assigned to review municipal data, especially police budgets, according to Ron Stern, local government policy specialist with the Governor's Center for Local Government Services.

The consultant's work, which is expected to take about four months, will be used to create a final report on police regionalization.

If the municipalities choose to consolidate, it will take an additional year before a regional force is organized.

No full-time police officers will be laid off as part of regionalization, Stern said.

A committee with representatives of all member communities will oversee the consolidation process and the consolidated department's operation.