- Due to COVID-19 shutdown, Derry Township is not collecting Amusement and Parking taxes that bolster annual revenues
- The 2020 township budget currently has a deficit of $1.6 million, and could reach $2 million by year end
- Police dispatch service costs the township $550,000 annually
- Other options include closing the library, and further increase of real estate taxes
By: Sean Guay
Hershey, Pennsylvania – During the Derry Township Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday evening, a motion was brought by Supervisor Rick Zmuda to authorize the Township Manager Christopher Christman to further engage Dauphin County regarding the permanent takeover of police dispatch for Derry Township by the county. The motion was seconded by Supervisor Natalie Nutt.
Derry Township Police Chief Garth Warner spoke out against disbanding the police dispatch center during the Township meeting. Chief Warner said he is convinced that the level of service to Derry Township residents will be reduced if the call center is closed.
Many concerned citizens also used the public comment sessions during the meeting to voice their opposition of the plan to disband the dispatch center.
Township Manager Christopher Christman presented a slideshow detailing the 2020 General Fund Expenses. Using a pie chart, he illustrated that police services make up nearly half (47%) of all expenses.
Christman recommended disbanding the police dispatch center, and said the only other option would be to close the public library, and further increase the real estate tax burden on township residents.
Due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, Derry Township is not collecting the Amusement taxes, and Parking taxes that bolster its annual revenues. The Township currently has a 2020 budget deficit of $1.6 million, and could reach $2 million by year end. Police dispatch service costs the township $550,000 annually.
Supervisor Carter Wyckoff emphasized that this is not a movement to “defund the police,” and that the proposal to disband the police dispatch would not reduce public safety in Hershey.
Five new officers were hired by the Derry Township Police Department in July, thus bringing the force to full compliment.
Dauphin County dispatch currently handles the EMS and fire emergency calls for Derry Township. Dauphin County also dispatches police for every other municipality in the county other than Derry Township.
Following an intense public input session, the motion passed unanimously by Township Supervisors Susan Cort, Chris Abruzzo, and Carter Wyckoff.
Watch the full meeting here: