Cranberry Draws Up Resolution to Terminate Seven Fields Police Contract
Officials will vote next week on whether to grant the borough’s request for early release from the police services agreement. In the meantime, a draft resolution details the history of the township’s contracts for protection with Seven Fields.
Seven Fields officials could have an answer by next week on whether they can proceed with plans to create a regional police department with Evans City.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the Cranberry Board of Supervisors were presented with a draft resolution to terminate the agreement it has in place with the borough for police services.
Officials are expected to vote next week on whether to approve the resolution, which would grant Seven Fields’ request for an early release of the contract. Supervisors meet next at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Cranberry Municipal Center.
The draft resolution shared Wednesday also detailed the history of police protection between Cranberry and Seven Fields, which dates back almost 20 years. The borough first began to contract police services with the township in 1993. Prior to that, the borough had its own department.
Saying they no longer could afford to pay a percentage of Cranberry's police budget, especially as the township continues to attract residents and businesses, Seven Fields officials began earlier this year to explore other options.
The borough, which less than one square mile in size, is done growing, according to manager Tom Smith.
While Seven Fields has said the borough pays 7.5 percent of Cranberry’s increasing police budget, Cranberry manager Jerry Andree said that no longer is the case.
As part of the agreement set into place in 2009, Andree said a change in the payment structure eliminated payments based on percentages in favor of exact dollar amounts. These figures remain the same regardless of how Cranberry’s police department’s budget grows, he said.
In 2012, Seven Fields is scheduled to pay Cranberry $337,074. In 2013, that number is $352,942. By 2016, it will grow to about $400,000.
(Eds. Note: To view the current police services agreement between Cranberry and Seven Fields, click on the PDF at the top of this article).
According to the resolution prepared by the township, the average increase in costs over a seven-year period for Seven Fields is 4.3 percent, “substantially below the average increase in the police department’s annual budget, while maintaining current levels of staffing.”
The payment structure also allows Seven Fields to “benefit from the anticipated growth in police staffing levels without a proportionate increase in annual payments that would have occurred under the previously utilized percentage-based payment structure,” according to the township.
Cranberry officials also have expressed worry of how Seven Fields’ plans for police protection could affect the township
Seven Fields is scheduled to pay the township $719,709 in the next two years, and Andree said losing that would affect Cranberry’s police department, which was budgeted according to that number.
Other impacts to the community detailed in the resolution are Evans City emergency vehicles traveling through Cranberry to reach Seven Fields while responding to a call and vice versa. Although roughly the same size, the boroughs are located about seven miles apart. Also a concern according to the township is the amount of mutual aid Cranberry may have to provide to the new joint force.
The answer Cranberry officials give next week will impact Seven Fields’ plans for police services.
On Monday, the borough gave a public presentation on plans for the joint force with Evans City, which would provide 24/7 coverage for both communities. Smith said Seven Fields would save about $90,000 in 2013 by creating a regional department with Evans City. Evans City would see savings of about $100,000 in the first year of the agreement, he said.
The hope is to have the department in place by Jan. 1 2013, according to officials.
If Cranberry turns down the borough’s request for early termination, Smith said Seven Fields would honor the rest of the contract through 2014.
When the agreement ends, the borough would again explore its police service options—including a regional department with Evans City.
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