Future of CRPD in Bath
A MESSAGE FROM BATH COUNCIL PRESIDENT
Borough officials are considering a shift in police service coverage. This issue has been of discussion since mid-2016. While the Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD) has served Bath’s community with honor, dignity, and loyalty for more than 20 years, the time has come to reassess our business relationship and the financial outlook of police services.
The Borough of Bath and the business relationship between CRPD administrators and municipal members is miss-aligned. Lower Nazareth Township and Hanover Township have expressly unique demographics, visioning, and purchasing power of police services that Bath struggles to compete with. Borough officials understand a new role our municipality can participate by contracting for police services—providing police protection at an affordable and sustainable pace. Council is struggling with an evident tax increase for 2018. Council has reduced or cut most line item spending in the annual budget except police services. In order to stabilize the property tax rate for years to come, the only next logical step is to address police services.
Bath dissolved its original police department in 1995 because the costs to maintain a municipal force were exceeding revenues the Borough collected. It was economically unsustainable. Regionalization of the police department was an efficient and cost effective way to provide police service to Bath residents. Now, more than 20 years later, the financial strains of a growing police department are once again front and center.
As police service costs grow, those expenses encroach upon and severely limit spending in necessary capital infrastructure. The Borough is re-structuring and moving into a much smaller and more efficient municipal building that will reduce cost over time. The Borough must focus on fixing a dilapidated municipal street inventory, which was estimated at $5.5 million in 2012. Finally, the Borough is subject to unfunded mandates by the state and federal governments to improve storm water protection systems. All of these capital projects come with incredible financial burden requiring innovative and forward thinking on how to re-allocate tax revenues and annual income.
The Borough administration wants you to know that this issue is being examined from all possible angles. As Council President, I have formed a Citizens Police Advisory Panel, which is tasked with fact-finding and evaluating police service options. This panel consists of Borough residents from Old Forge Estates to Holiday Hill. This panel, or focus group, will offer a recommendation to Borough Council from the information and interviews held with area police departments. In addition, I have invited members of the community to attend Council meetings to discuss this matter during the meeting’s public session forum. Council plans on establishing Town Hall meetings in the near future as well. It is the goal of Borough Council to have a decision whether to remain with CRPD or withdrawal membership by December 15, 2017.
While this is a significant social policy adjustment, please know Bath officials are committed to providing Borough families with police protection and services. Borough Council will be evaluating expenses, revenues, crime trends, social impact, and the human capital behind making an extremely difficult decision such as staying with or leaving CRPD. Council is fully aware that maintaining CRPD going forward is likely to require a year-over-year tax increase for police services on our struggling families. The Borough’s administration is steadfast to preventing or minimizing future property tax liabilities.
We encourage your participation in this important discussion.
Mark A. Saginario, Bath Council President
(Last Revised 04.11.2017)