Seven Fields to keep Cranberry police for now

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A request from Seven Fields that Cranberry give the neighboring borough an early out in a long-standing police services contract was pulled from Cranberry's agenda last week at the borough's request.

Seven Fields Manager Tom Smith said the borough requested pulling the resolution after initially asking for a vote on it in an effort to move the issue toward amicable discussions about the sometimes-contentious police services agreement.

Cranberry has provided police coverage to the borough since 1992. The current contract was approved after much deliberation.

Cranberry supervisors Chairman Bruce Mazzoni said supervisors and township administrators were not inclined to approve Seven Fields request to cancel the five-year agreement two years early because of the about $700,000 in revenue that would have been lost over the two-year period. "We built our budget anticipating that revenue," Mr. Mazzoni said.

Mr. Smith said that though the borough agreed to the percentage-based fee terms when the contract was approved three years ago, the actual incident rate in the borough is such that each call is costing $651.

"We consider that exorbitant," he said.

The borough was proposing, instead, to link with Evans City to create what Mr. Smith described as a regional police department.

He said the borough would have been able to do this at a cost savings of about $100,000 annually.

But during informal discussions with Cranberry officials prior to the supervisors' public meeting Thursday night, he said it was clear that the township would decline an early termination request when the matter was presented for a vote.

The issue had been discussed at preceding public meetings during which supervisors had indicated they were not in favor of an early release.

Mr. Smith is hoping that the discussions that will commence will include the idea of having a Cranberry police officer stationed in Seven Fields, which he said would give residents more of a sense of a consistent police presence. He had no criticism of the police department, though, calling it "top notch."

He said he hopes discussions will produce a greater sense of satisfaction between both parties for the sake of being neighborly.

Mr. Mazzoni said he and township Manager Jerry Andree are willing to hear all concerns and questions.

"Maybe there's no resolution [that will please everyone] but we'll open the discussions," Mr. Mazzoni said.

The contract that is in force expires at the end of 2014 but had a built-in two-year extension unless Seven Fields chose to end the agreement in 2014.

neigh_north

Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or 724-772-9180.


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