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Pennsburg/East Greenville Legal Action Continues
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

Who is Responsible for Paying the Police Contracts?


            The Action for Declaratory Judgement filed in September by Pennsburg against East Greenville continues to make its way through the court and round 1 seems to have gone in Pennsburg's favor.

            The action seeks the judgment of a court to determine the rights of parties without ordering anything be done or awarding damages. By seeking a declaratory judgment, the party making the request (Pennsburg) is looking for an official declaration of the status of a matter in controversy.

            In this case, the matter before the court is the contracts with the police chief and officers of the Upper Perk Police Department.

            East Greenville and Pennsburg were partners in the Upper Perk Police District until June 1 of this year.  After announcing their intentions to withdraw from the partnership last year, East Greenville formed their own police department, beginning on that date.

            The contracts between the Upper Perk Police Commission, comprised of the mayors and two borough council members of each borough. Were still in force at the time.  The contract with the police chief runs through December 31, 2018 and the contract with the police officers runs through December 31, 2017.

            Pennsburg taxpayers have been footing the bill alone since June.

            According to court documents, on October 4, Anthony Sherr, Esq., representing East Greenville, filed objections to Pennsburg's claims. The objections, in part, claim that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement did not state that the terminating party retains any financial or contractual obligations after it withdraws from the agreement.  The objections also claimed that despite East Greenville official's written notice to Pennsburg on September 6, 2016, of its intent to terminate the agreement and dissolve the Police Commission, "Pennsburg never sought to provide official notice to the UPPD [Upper Perk Police Department] police officers or the Police Chief of the Police Commission's intent to lay of any UPPD employees or otherwise restructure any terms of employment."

            East Greenville's objection argues that Pennsburg fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that they are improperly seeking an advisory opinion and asks that the court dismisses the court action. 

            On Tuesday Charles D. Garner, Esq. and Matthew T. Hovey, representing Pennsburg, filed the borough's response to the East Greenville's objections.

            Among the answers to the objections was that East Greenville, as a joint employer of the police force and party to both the police contract and the chief's employment agreement remains obligated by those contracts, consistent with the terms of the agreement which mandates a 45% contribution by East Greenville.

            Also, among the arguments is that Pennsburg is "entitled a declaration that East Greenville is a joint employer of the police force and remains obligated by the relevant labor agreements to which it is a party and jointly and severally liable."  And, "Pennsburg does not seek an advisory opinion given that the police force pursuing legal action in response to a breach of the labor agreements is not some obscure hypothetical, but rather a certainty.

            The court can now determine whether or not additional arguments will be taken or make a decision on the request for the Action for Declaratory Judgement.





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