Police, fire protection expensive for G-A

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Public safety is a top concern for the Borough of Greencastle and Antrim Township. The cost to provide it is being watched by borough manager Susan Armstrong and township administrator Brad Graham. They were the featured speakers at the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce breakfast Tuesday morning, and shared their insights with a large crowd.

With volunteerism dropping at the Rescue Hose Company, taxpayers may have to pick up the cost in the future. Armstrong reported that while the borough had a lean but efficient staff, the police department, with four fulltime and eight parttime officers and a chief, comprised 41 percent of the general fund budget. That was in line with other municipalities, she continued.

“If we think a police department is expensive, try funding a fire department. We really need to support them.”

Graham said commercial growth at exit 3 would impact police services. In talks with emergency personnel, he stated they were close to needing more fulltime paid staff.

“The supervisors have been avoiding paying for a police force for as long as possible because of the incredible cost. And volunteerism at the Rescue Hose Company has waned so much, they have no other option. The cost therefore shifts to the taxpayer.”

Both addressed the feasibility study for a unified water system between Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority and Antrim Township Municipal Authority. Armstrong hoped the results of the study would be presented to both municipalities by March 31. Graham said some people were for a joint system, others were opposed, but the township needed to expand its system regardless, because it had so few users.

In Greencastle, the capital reserve and sewer funds were depleted, according to Armstrong. The borough had raised real estate taxes only six times since 1968, the latest in 2004.

“We have been good stewards, but if we increase taxes next year, I can argue why it needed to happen.”

In Antrim, expensive necessary upgrades were underway to the sewer system. The Shanks Church Road sewer line and the dewatering press at the plant were top priority.

“DEP put us under restrictions, which limits our commercial growth,” said Graham.

“We are hard pressed to pursue the corrections.”