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Gerhart Announces Plan to Return Upper Perk Police to East Greenville
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

The complete statement read by Gerhart appears at the end of this story


            East Greenville's leading mayoral candidate criticized the current borough council Monday for its current spending spree. Keith Gerhart also announced that his political group will propose a plan that would bring back the Upper Perk Police Department to the borough with a "reduction in the previous monthly allocation costs and with no tax increases."

            Gerhart – who won the Republican and Democratic Primaries in May – did not provide any details of the proposal, "which cannot be negotiated or finalized until a new administration takes office in 2018," and will be promptly revealed upon completion, according to a prepared statement he read aloud during the public meeting.

            A new agreement with Pennsburg would provide 24/7 police coverage in East Greenville at a monthly cost significantly less than $54,000 per month, the rate the borough was paying when the Upper Perk Police Commission dissolved June 1, according to Gerhart. 

            However, he didn't provide cost estimates during his presentation or an interview.

"I can't talk about numbers," Gerhart said after the meeting.

            After the meeting, Gerhart said he felt confident the "We the People" group of candidates could reach an agreement with Pennsburg Borough Council to accomplish the goal.  "That's why I made the statement," he said after the meeting.

            Through off-the-record conversations with officials from the neighboring municipality, Gerhart said he learned Pennsburg officials would be open to a discussion and were willing to work with a newly elected East Greenville council.  "That was Pennsburg's statement," he said after the meeting.

            According to the mayoral candidate, Pennsburg would not be willing to consider a proposal from the neighboring community until it negotiates a new contract with the Upper Perk Police Department's officers. The current deal expires at the end of the year.

            Gerhart announced during the meeting that any resulting savings from the new police arrangement would be applied to rebuilding our infrastructure, and East Greenville's savings account.

            The statement, which received a round of applause from the audience, emphasized that any required tax increase would be the direct result of the "current council's lack of acting in a fiscally responsible manner" with the residents' tax dollars.  "It is interesting to note, however, that the voters overwhelmingly trusted 'We the People' to do the right thing, absent any specific details," Gerhart said during the meeting.

            Citing a start-up budget for the new police department, presented by Mayor Ryan Sloyer, of approximately $143,000, Gerhart estimated that East Greenville officials have already spent approximately $54,000. He argued that the additional expenses of purchasing two new police vehicles, the cost to convert the Colonial Village Clubhouse into a police department and hire two additional officers, would cost approximately $252,000.

            Gerhart concluded that the borough's cost for  having its own police department for seven months would total $647,000, very close to the approximate total if it would have remained in the commission through the end of the year.

            Despite Gerhart's words, East Greenville council continued to spend money towards the borough's new police department. Only Ryan Pugh voted against a pair of related resolutions.

            The members approved a lease/purchase agreement to spend up to $34,000 for a second police vehicle. They also voted to uniform two additional officers at a price not to exceed $11,000.

            Council President Tracey Hunsinger declined to comment after the meeting on the borough's process to hire one full-time and one part-time officer.

            Police Chief Andrew Skelton presented a monthly report for June. The local department responded to 20 incidents in the borough, while the State Police responded to 33 incidents. The East Greenville police covered one incident each of criminal mischief and burglary, according to Skelton. The state troopers responded to two incidents of criminal mischief and fraud, along with one incident each of harassment, simple assault and vehicle theft. 

Statement Delivered by Keith T. Gerhart at East Greenville Council Meeting, July 10, 2017

            I, along with other residents, have on several occasions requested that current council members put a moratorium on spending for the borough police department, only to have our request denied, with the Mayor stating "we are moving forward." I am again requesting the borough council reconsider my request to put a moratorium on any further spending for the East Greenville Borough Police Department.

           The Mayor has presented a start-up budget for the borough police department of approximately $143,000.00. To date, the total police expenditures from 03/0 l/17 to 06/23/17 are approximately $54,000.00, not including the cost of two new police vehicles, the estimate to convert the clubhouse  into a police department office building, the cost for two additional  officers, nor the cost to furnish the new police station. The projected total, based upon numbers provided, would be approximately $252,000.00.

            Other figures that may be included in the overall costs will likely be appearing in the very near future from breach of contract litigation plus legal fees, the possible costs to the municipality for PA State Police coverage dependent on the Governor's budget proposal, and also the remaining costs for legal fees, payroll, insurance, taxes, etc. for the remainder of 2017.

            To summarize, what we are looking at is a projected total expense for East Greenville to have its own police force for a seven month period, plus the allocations already paid to the Upper Perk Police Commission for the first five months of 2017, to be very close to the approximate total of $647,000.00 if East Greenville had remained with the Upper Perk Police District through (December of this year.) Factor in the estimated cost for breach of contract  litigation,  plus the other miscellaneous expenses mentioned  previously, and this borough could be facing a total projected expense  nearing $750,000.00. It is disgusting to have to sit back and watch this seated council spending money like there is a never ending flow of funds coming in the borough's coffers. We have every right to ask questions and demand answers. The current council members were voted in to office - To serve the borough and the wishes of the citizens, all of the citizens, and not a very small percentage.

            I have been asked by the Mayor and council  members about our group's plan for fulfilling  the platform on which we ran, of bringing back the Upper Perk Police District and having them available  for 24/7 coverage  in the borough.  In light of the fact that the current seated council is showing that they have no desire to listen to what the voters made very clear at the polls, I have decided to release the following information to the seated council, and the citizens of East Greenville.

            Our "We the People" group will propose a plan that would bring back the Upper Perk Police District as the primary coverage for the Borough of East Greenville, and to have 24/7 services available to us again. Our plan is to accomplish this with a reduction in the previous monthly allocation costs, with no tax increase, and the resulting savings of taxpayers' dollars applied to rebuilding our infrastructure and, hopefully, our savings account. The details, which cannot be negotiated or finalized until a new administration takes office in 2018, will be promptly revealed upon completion.  It is interesting to note, however, that voters overwhelmingly trusted "We the People" to do the right thing, absent any specific details. I will emphasize again that any tax increase required will be the direct result of the current council's lack of acting in a fiscally responsible manner with your tax dollars.

            Our group is looking at any options available to us, and not rushing to judgement as is the case with the current council.  We are looking into long term, bi-partisan solutions that will benefit East Greenville and the Valley as a whole. The Mayor was hell bent on having his own police force, which served to feed his need to be in control.  Everything is being fast-tracked before anyone has a chance to look closer at any possible negative consequences in the future. Being close-minded to any other options limits your choices as well as your results.

            Those of us who are taxpayers in the Borough have every right to be angry with the events that have taken place since September 2016, when the decision was made to abandon a professional, well-run police department that has served our Borough for decades, and replace it with a partially staffed department. It is becoming more evident every day that hundreds of thousands of tax dollars are being spent to appease the egos of a few, who cannot accept the fact that their leader will be gone from office, and they will no longer have the majority vote on council in January. They refused to believe our group could win. And now, after a resounding defeat at the polls, what they are doing since that time can be viewed as nothing more than spite or revenge, knowing full well that the Borough of East Greenville Police Department will be coming to an end hopefully sooner, rather than later.

            I can't imagine how they must feel knowing that they are hurting every taxpayer in East Greenville with their actions. Do your civic duties you were elected to do, and that is to serve the residents of East Greenville, and respect what they have told you at the polls in May.

            Your agenda is not wanted, nor is it needed. Every resident must ask themselves, "Was this ever really about taking care of US?"







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