CLEARFIELD – Lawrence Township citizens will be voting on whether or not to pass a dedicated public safety fund for its police department. This would come at a six mill increase for the township. This was announced at the Tuesday Supervisor’s meeting.
This safety fund would have its millage accounted for separately under budgeting, but would be under the general fund. This would be a 33 percent increase in taxes for the township, according the supervisors. It was an option discussed previously. Only half of the millage is allowed to go directly to wages.
According to Supervisor William Lawhead, this would allow for up to two full time officers or up to three part-time officers. The Lawrence Township police force originally included 14 officers including full and part time officers. Through attrition, no active diminishing, the township is down to eight full time officers. One of the positions was the school officer position paid through a grant that had expired.
“I think we do need more police, but how do we pay for it?” asked Lawhead.
The supervisors listed their efforts to avoid coming to this:
- A year of negotiations.
- Arbitration awarded in favor of the police officers.
- Talks to form a regional police force. This was said to have failed by Supervisor Glenn Johnston, after the Lawrence Township officers made it clear they were against this.
“The solution to left to us is a dedicated public safety fund,” said Johnston.
Greg Martell, a township business person at the meeting for other business, asked if there were other alternatives. One he suggested was to let the police force diminish to zero officers and then institute reform.
“If you are asking if our hands are tied? Yes, our hands are tied,” said Supervisor Edward Brown.