Will police consolidation deliver tax savings?
The Allegheny Institute advocates that where money can be saved by consolidation, merger, privatization or outsourcing by all means those avenues should be explored and encouraged.
Cheswick Borough and Springdale Township, two neighboring municipalities with roughly the same populations (1,714 and 1,603), will consolidate police forces into a new Allegheny Valley Regional Police Department with a planned start date of July 1. The consolidation study was undertaken by the Center for Local Government Services, which recently recommended against a proposed agreement of four other municipalities in the Allegheny Valley.
Officials claim the consolidation will save $90,000 in Cheswick and $130,000 in Springdale on an annual basis (a news article states that the expenditures of the consolidated department will be $500,000). Data from 2019 on taxable values and millage rates show that in Cheswick one mill raises $91,000 and in Springdale one mill raises $75,000.
If those savings materialize and are put into reducing municipal tax rates on property, that could mean annual savings of $100 in Cheswick and $170 in Springdale on $100,000 of assessed value. Taxpayers ought to be vigilant in ensuring these savings are returned to them.
Besides proximity and similar population, one community having no full-time police officers and the strong health of each community’s police pension plan (as of 2017, both had funding ratios of 90 percent or higher) likely contributed to the willingness to go forward with the consolidation.