The Richland Township Board of Supervisors voted Monday night to increase residential property taxes to fund its first-ever twenty-four hours /seven days a week police force.
Two part-time police officers working approximately thirty hours per week and each earning $30,000 per year will join the force late next Spring, according to Police Chief Richard Ficco. He added that the new part-time officers will eventually be considered for full-time employment with the township.
Ficco remarked the part-timers are "a great way to test the waters" before adding two full-time employees.
The township currently employs twelve full-time police officers supplemented by the Pennsylvania State Police for "around the clock" coverage.
The additional officers' salaries will be paid for with a 1.8 mills property tax increase as part of the 2014 township budget which was adopted by the supervisors, said Ficco and supervisor Richard Orloff.
The tax hike brings the general property tax rate to 10.55 mills with an additional 3/4 mil firefighting tax for a total real estate tax of 11.3 mills for residents, said Township Manager Stephen Sechriest. He pointed out the tax increase amounts to approximately $45.00 per year for an average property assessment.
Orloff expressed his satisfaction at voting for the township's first "twenty-four/ seven police service". He noted that in a recent township tax survey, sixty-seven percent of 350 residents responded they were in favor of hiring additional police patrols and were willing to pay for it.
Board Chairman Tim Arnold remarked, "I'm very happy about this, I wanted to see this happen", referring to the expanded police coverage and his support of the tax increase.
In other business, the supervisors approved, as part of the 2014 budget, to require township employees, also for the first time, to pay for a portion of their health insurance.
According to Ficco, the health insurance employee contribution for a family of three would be $100.00 per month beginning next year. He said health insurance costs to the township are slated to rise by fifteen per cent next year.