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Gov. Wolf Proposes Charging Municipalities For State Police Services

Gene J. Puskar
AP Photo


Communities patrolled full-time by Pennsylvania State Police,  instead of local officers, would pay $25 per resident under the budget proposed for next year by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Troopers are solely responsible for policing more than half the state's municipalities, home to 21 percent of Pennsylvania residents.

The expense isn't borne directly by those communities, though, but "by taxpayers statewide, who in many cases [also] support their own local police coverage through local taxes," noted the budget summary.

The rate suggested in today's budget amounts to just $63 million per year, according to state budget secretary Randy Albright. 

Full-time state police costs $450 million per year.

It costs another $100 million for part-time state police coverage in other communities, but they wouldn't pay the fee proposed today, Albright says.

Local government advocates, such as the Pennsylvania League of Municipalities, have said they support assessing some sort of fee along the lines of what Wolf is suggesting.

Prior fee proposals have suggested higher amounts such as the $156 per capita proposal that languished during the last legislative session.

Right now, state police get much of their revenue from the state Motor License Fund. The amount will be more than $800 million this year, according to the budget document.

Wolf also wants to hire another three classes of cadets, according to the document, to meet his goal of increasing staffing by 100 troopers during the next five years amid retirements and lackluster recruitment results.

State police also patrol highways, handle Pennsylvania's Amber Alert System, enforce liquor laws, perform background checks for firearms purchasers, oversee the dismantling and cleanup of meth labs, deal with criminal activity at casinos in partnership with the state Attorney General's office, provide security for the governor, traffic safety education, and municipal police training and testing.

Emily Previti is WITF's reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media collaboration focused on issues facing Pennsylvania's cities.