Northampton Press

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bath submits exit proposal for policing

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 by BILL LEINER JR. Special to The Press in Local News

Borough officials discuss coverage from Moore Township, state police

The future of policing was a topic of discussion at the Aug. 7 Bath Borough Council meeting.

Council voted last month to end its agreement with Colonial Regional Police Department (CRPD) for policing services to the borough.

Bath submitted its exit proposal to Lower Nazareth and Hanover townships, both members of CRPD. Borough Manager Brad Flynn explained the exit proposal from CRPD includes a buyout option. The details of the exit proposal are confidential at this point.

“We feel the buyout option is fair and equitable,” Flynn said.

The Colonial Regional Police Committee (CRPC) will review the exit proposal. Bath’s members of the CRPC are Mayor Fiorella Reginelli-Mirabito, council President Mark Saginario and Jamie Kratz.

Bath is working toward a short timeline to conclude exit negotiations — perhaps as few as one or two months. It will depend on whether the other two municipalities will agree to Bath’s exit terms.

Seeking an alternative police department, at this point, has centered on two options: Moore Township Police Department or Pennsylvania State Police. Talks with Moore Township have slowed. Moore had preliminarily offered to cover policing Bath for $273,000 per year with a three-year contract. The contract would include no increase during the term of the contract.

Colonial Regional’s annual policing fee grew to $413,000 in 2017 with anticipated hikes in the future.

State police have been invited to a special meeting with the council 6-7 p.m. Sept. 5 in council chambers. This will be the final opportunity for council and the mayor to ask questions of the state police leadership regarding its potential coverage of policing in Bath. Some on council, because of the anticipated budget shortfall for 2018, are interested in state police coverage since there will be no charge for those duties, according to Flynn. Concerns about granting state police coverage include response time to incidents and quantity of police presence in day-to-day patrol.

Also at the meeting, council discussed the second annual Suds and Spuds festival, set for noon-7 p.m. Aug. 26. Plans are proceeding. It is a celebration of the rich potato (spuds) farming history of the area and food and drinks (suds). There is planned entertainment, with a main stage set up for the event. Weyerbacher Brewery has developed a signature beer for the event, but its name has not yet been revealed.

The new municipal building, to be located on the former Thirst Quenchers building site, has begun renovations. It is reported about 85 percent of the demolition work has been completed, and the construction phase may begin as early as this month. The goal is to hold the first council meeting in the new borough hall in March 2018.

Bath received a $50,000 grant from Monroe County Local Shared Account to upgrade the borough’s IT systems. This money will be applied to the IT system in the new municipal building.

The borough also applied for, but has not yet received an answer to, a $351,000 grant from Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development for upgrading the borough’s traffic lights.

In budgetary matters, the council is working through the 2018 budget process. The council and mayor have focused on trying to control costs as much as possible. The current projected deficit is around $40,000. A tax hike is possible, but council is working to balance the budget without a hike.

At the 6 p.m. Sept. 5 council meeting at the municipal building, Washington Street, Lehigh Valley Planning Commission (LVPC) will present phase 1 of the Bath traffic and parking plan. The goal is to complete phase 2 by December 2017. It is believed LVPC’s effort will assist in alleviating the parking problems that have plagued Bath for decades.