A proposal under consideration by Portage Township supervisors to purchase police protection from neighboring Portage Borough is under fire from residents who say the plan is too expensive.

Some say coverage by local police, in addition to state police, is not necessary. Many more have expressed concern that the $89,000 annual price tag for the three-year pact will bankrupt the township.

Opponents of the proposal have spent the past two weeks circulating petitions. Local businessman Larry Raptosh said about 1,000 signatures have been obtained.

According to the 2010 census, Portage Township has 3,640 residents.

The signatures should not be seen as opposition to any police service, just to the terms outlined in the proposal, Raptosh said.

“Very few are opposed to police protection,” he said Wednesday.

“We have a few in opposition to police protection, while most are looking to get the best police service for the right price.”

The township supervisors have been in talks with the borough for some time and last year formed a citizens advisory committee to offer input on a number of township issues, including police protection.

Under the proposal, the township will purchase services from the borough that will include police call response and routine patrols.

A patrolman will be on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a shift cannot be filled due to illness or another emergency, the borough will reimburse the township for the hours that service was unavailable, said supervisor Chairman Kenneth Trimbath, a strong advocate for police service.

A number of draft agreements have been developed, and the current draft, the fourth, is expected to be considered soon by both municipalities.

That agreement was approved by the 11-member citizens committee by a one-vote margin, which should have signaled township officials that the proposal lacks broad support, opponents said at a meeting Tuesday evening.

About 75 residents attended the session held at the Portage Revolver Club on Allen Street.

A large number of them expressed concern about the price of the service and the length of the agreement with the borough.

Resident Bill Cooper argued that service could be provided on a call basis at a fraction of the cost.

Washington Township, a municipality with a population of about a quarter that of Portage Township, purchases service for $11,000.

Portage Township Supervisor James Kovach, who attended the residents meeting, said he is not opposed to police coverage but supports an agreement on an on-call basis.

Kovach said he would like to see some type of coverage in the event of a domestic problem or similar issue.

The meeting organizers urged the residents to obtain more signatures on the petitions and make telephone calls to supervisors Trimbath and Elwood Selapack urging them to reject the proposal.

Raptosh said two representatives of the group will be at Monday’s Portage Borough Council meeting to make their concerns known.

Residents also were urged to attend Wednesday’s township supervisors meeting.


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