Police coverage remains at large in West Cocalico

By on February 18, 2015

It’s the issue that just won’t go away for the West Cocalico Township supervisors — police coverage for their municipality.

At their Tuesday, Feb. 17, meeting, the supervisors noted that while they signed an agreement for a one-year extension for coverage by the East Cocalico Police Department, the supervisors at East Cocalico have not yet the resolution for that agreement. Which means that East Cocalico police are covering West Cocalico under the 2014 contract.

And, even more critically, the movement forward on West Cocalico’s part to enter into a regional police force with East, and Denver and Adamstown boroughs continues to stall. Currently, both Denver and Adamstown contract for police coverage on a multi-year basis.

However, based on comments at the meeting by Supervisor James J. Stoner, West Cocalico representative to the regional police board, action may be imminent.

Photo by Michele Walter Fry Principals of West Cocalico Township are, from left, Carolyn Hildebrand, township manager/zoning officer; and supervisors James J. Stoner, Jacque Smith (chair), and Terry Scheetz.

Photo by Michele Walter Fry
Principals of West Cocalico Township are, from left, Carolyn Hildebrand, township manager/zoning officer; and supervisors James J. Stoner, Jacque Smith (chair), and Terry Scheetz.

The crux of contention on West Cocalico’s part has been East Cocalico’s underfunded pension liability for police officers. The other municipalities would inherit that liability should they enter into an agreement. And, Stoner has contended, he and the others must see an actuary’s report to see the real numbers related to police pension obligations.

The actuarial valuation for Cocalico Regional Police has been supplied by Harrisburg-based Conrad Siegel Actuaries. The report has been distributed to all the municipalities.

Stoner noted that he will be meeting Thursday at 10 a.m. with Douglas Mackley, chairman of the East Cocalico supervisors, to discuss the report and other sticking points.

“I have a couple of ideas to throw at him,” said Stoner.

There is a regional police board meeting set for Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m., Stoner said.

The supervisors were questioned by a member of the public regarding their approach to other law enforcement entities for coverage.

Stoner noted that he had contacted an individual at the state Department of Community and Economic Development about alterate township coverage options including the Pennsylvania State Police and out-of-county neighboring police departments.

“As a businessman, I always have a Plan B or C,” said Stoner.

Supervisor Terry Scheetz noted he ran into a Clay Township supervisor and casually discussed the police coverage matter along with other municipal issues.

“At no time has this board discussed formally about going anywhere else while in discussions with East Cocalico,” said Supervisor Chair Jacque Smith. “Are we playing hardball? We have a right to after what has occurred along the way.”

In other business:

* The supervisors learned from Roadmaster Tom Showalter that the township crews have used 770 tons of road salt so far this winter. Three more loads were expected to be delivered Tuesday.

“We’ve been out plowing snow or treating roads 33 or 34 times in the past 48 days,” he said. That effort has left little time for crews to do much beyond sign repair and maintaining equipment, Showalter said.

* East Cocalico Police Chief George Beever noted speed trailer results for East Main Street in Reinholds. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour. The survey done between Feb. 7 and Feb. 12 found that the average speed of all vehicles was 30.5 mph while 85 percent of the vehicles traveled at 36 mph. The peak time frame for vehicle travel on the road was between 3 and 4 p.m.

Beever said speed trailer efforts assist with enforcement strategies by his department.

* The supervisors voted 2-to-1 on a motion to approve a financial security reduction request by Jill A. Sensenig for site work being done on her residential property. Stoner abstained, noting that Sensenig is his sister.

Carolyn Hildebrand, township manager/zoning officer, provided her report, noting she has received a number of inquiries regarding detached garages residents expect to build in the spring. Questions, she said, centered on setbacks and size permits.

She also noted she rejected the request of a resident who wanted to sell ice cream and root beer from her home. The enterprise, said Hildebrand, would front an alley likely creating traffic and pedestrian issues.

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