The dog wags back!

A sometimes funny, somtimes angry, but mostly progressive, blog on the politics and issues of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and America.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pay for Police

Here is a good letter to the editor from the P-G:

Pay for police

Bravo to state Rep. John Pallone, D-New Kensington, who recently proposed legislation to bill municipalities for using state police to provide local police service. This legislation will reduce a hidden subsidy that has been provided through the generosity of state taxpayers who subsidize service for the fortunate few.

In 1997, the state police estimated that local coverage costs approximately $102 per resident. Inflation would boost that cost to $120, so Rep. Pallone is offering these communities a bargain. If they don't like it, they can contract with other municipalities or fund their own service.

It would help to compare "free rider" communities with others in the same county that provide their own local service and Westmoreland County provides both kinds of communities. Rep. Pallone's legislation excludes municipalities with fewer than 9,000 residents, but I am not as generous. In Westmoreland County, there are nearly 46,000 households with 117,000 people (one-third of the county's residents) that currently receive subsidized local service from the state police.

These "free rider" municipalities are currently paying only $42 per household for state and county police compared to $256 per household for Westmoreland residents who fund local police services.

The argument that paying $100 per person for police coverage would force them to increase their taxes misses the point -- others bear the burden for the services that the "free riders" receive. I wonder if those residents are happy to subsidize their neighbors.