SEVEN FIELDS — Borough council learned last week that Seven Fields will see a more than $81,000 annual contribution increase for the Evans City-Seven Fields Regional Police Department next year.
Borough Manager Tom Smith said Sept. 9 that the change was based on the July 2018 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates, the latest numbers available.
The Census Bureau estimated Seven Fields had a population last year of 2,754, a decrease from the 2,887 recorded in the 2010 Census. Likewise, Evans City is estimated to have a population of 1,720, a 6 percent drop from the 2010 figure of 1,833.
As per the 2015 police charter, Seven Fields contributed 53 percent of the department’s budget, minus any grants. With these new calculations, the borough will pay 61.5 percent of the remaining department balance, with Evans City picking up 38.5 percent.
The charter provides for the apportionment formula to be reviewed and revised every five years.
Smith estimated the overall payment from Seven Fields in 2020 would be more than $472,000, an increase of about $81,000 from its 2019 contribution, while Evans City will pay $51,329 less in 2020, for a sum of $295,971.
Smith said he was in “sticker shock” by the added price on the police but that the value the department provides far outweighs his financial concern.
“I still stand behind (the regional department),” Smith said.
Other members of the council agreed with Smith’s assessment. Councilwoman Kimberly Regan-Koch said the addition was a larger cost than she had expected, but added she thought it was the best option.
“What’s the alternative?” Regan-Koch asked.
During later discussion about the 2020 budget, Smith said the borough would likely have to pull money from a surplus fund to pay for its regular expenses atop the increased police contribution.
Smith added that he would design several scenarios — including raising property tax millage — to fill the deficit.