Adamstown debates change in police coverage

By on July 24, 2013

By:

JAMES McGINNIS Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Adamstown officials may end the borough’s long-standing arrangement to contract police coverage from East Cocalico.

Borough president Randy Good announced at the July 2 meeting that the council was mulling plans to end the agreement with the East Cocalico Police Department, which has provided coverage to the town since 1978, and enter into a contract with the Northern Lancaster Regional Police Department, which currently serves Warwick, Clay and Penn townships.

Although Good commended East Cocalico for providing "excellent" coverage to the borough over the past 35 years, he noted that the cost of a new contract with the department is estimated at $248,987.40. Good was especially concerned that the East Cocalico Police Department has $2.2. million in unfunded pension and health care liability and estimated that these costs may go up further due to the potential expansion of the township’s building facilities.

"If we were to sign this contract, we would be responsible for unfunded liability for pensions and health care," he said. "When you’re buying services, you should not have responsibilities for future costs."

Good noted that a contract with Northern Lancaster Police Department is estimated to be $150,756.31, meaning that the borough would save $98,231.09. He also pointed out that the department has pledged to add eight more officers to its force if two other neighboring municipalities – Denver and West Cocalico Township – follow Adamstown in switching coverage.

"It’s a very professional organization," Good said. "If we join, we will have two votes on the Northern Lancaster Police Department’s Board. With East Cocalico we have no say."

Councilman Ed Zander said he shared Good’s concerns about the impact that rising pension, health care and building costs may have on the borough’s finances. However, Zander also voiced concern that response time may be compromised if police have to travel all the way from Warwick or Clay townships, which are further away than neighboring East Cocalico township.

"No call will go unanswered, but response time will be determined by urgency," Zander said.

Councilman David Gundrum suggested that the borough get quotes from the Pennsylvania State Police as well.

"We wouldn’t have to pay anything with them," Gundrum said.

However, Mayor David Buckwalter advised against relying on the State Police, and noted that there is a movement to make municipalities who contract with them pay for service.

Good acknowledged that his colleagues voiced legitimate concerns, and said that he agrees that the borough should not make its decision on future police coverage until all the information has been presented and considered.

"We are not going to attempt to save money by denying adequate police protection," added Good.

"What kind of coverage will we have and what will it look like?" Good asked. "These are the questions we need to consider moving forward."

In other news on council:

The council also approved a new ordinance regulating the borough’s parks and recreation facilities. The ordinance, which was approved in a vote of 7 to 0, applies to both the Adamstown Borough Park on the west end of town, which includes the pool and picnic grove, and the new Celebration Park, situated in a development south of Route 272. It stipulates that the parks are closed "from dusk until dawn" and preserves most of the current rules banning the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs, lewd behavior and profanity, and requires owners to clean up after their pets.

The council also said that they want a local boy scout to appear before them in person before approving his request to build a small pavilion with a swing in the borough park.

Councilwoman Cindy Schweitzer said that she opposed allowing him to build the 10-feet-by-6-feet pavilion in the park because of lack of space. She suggested it might be better to put it outside the library where people could use it to read books.

Councilman Ed Zander agreed with Schweitzer. "This would be a nice place for it," he said.

The council also authorized the organization responsible for the borough’s annual Community Days to build a small stage next to the park band shell at no cost to the town.

More ADAMSTOWN, page A10

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