Yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf gave his annual budget address and, once again, proposed a State Police tax. Like last year, this proposal is called a “fair service fee” which, if enacted, would be a tax assessed on all municipalities to pay for the costs of Pennsylvania State Police services in their community. The proposal, if enacted, is anticipated to raise $168 million.
The governor’s proposal claims that this tax should be assessed on every municipality in the commonwealth, because services are provided to all, regardless of the level of municipal police coverage and cites 2020 as a year in which extensive PSP resources were deployed to assist statewide, often in areas served by full-time municipal police departments. A complex formula based on a State Police developed schedule of station coverage costs, including incidents and coverage area. It then gives “credits” for low population and low income, as well as whether a municipality already provides full or part-time police services. To learn more and to find the proposed cost for your township, click here.
While there continues to be pressure to reduce the amount of funds transferred by the legislature from the state’s Motor License Fund to the PSP, last year’s proposed tax on all municipalities fell flat and no legislation was introduced to implement it.
Existing Association policy opposes any plan that would mandate that townships pay for State Police services. PSATS supports allowing townships to voluntarily contract with the PSP for patrol and ordinance enforcement services.
Recycling: Municipal Recycling Grants would be reduced from $30 million to $25 million, while Municipal Recycling Performance Grants would be reduced from $21.5 million to $11 million. This appears to be due to less funding available due to a $50 million transfer from the Recycling Fund to the General Fund in December as part of the 2020-2021 budget.
Financially Distressed Communities: Due to costs of pandemic mitigation, the commonwealth is expecting a surge in financially distressed Act 47 municipalities. The budget proposal says this will require communities to make difficult decisions surrounding consolidation and municipal reforms, and notes that additional state funding into these communities could provide much-needed relief. Increasing funding to existing programs offered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development is called for by the plan.
The governor’s entire budget proposal, and specifically the personal income tax hike, was met with strong opposition by legislative leadership. The rest of the governor’s plan was released in advance. To read our reports about the tax and school funding proposals, click here. For a report on the remainder of Wolf’s legislative agenda, which was released last week, click here. To view the budget proposals, click here.