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Pennsburg Seeks to Recoup Police Department Costs from East Greenville
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            On Sept. 6 Pennsburg borough filed an Action for Declaratory Judgment in Montgomery County Court against East Greenville, their 40-plus-year partner in the intergovernmental Upper Perkiomen Police District.

            The notice was accepted by East Greenville's Solicitor, Stephen J. Kramer on Sept. 19 and the borough has 20 days to take action on it.

            According to the "Notice to Defend," in or about 2003, both boroughs entered into an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement by adopting reciprocal ordinances for the continuation of the Upper Perk Police Commission, which operated a unified police department and that each borough would make financial contributions sufficient to fund the annual budget adopted by the Police Commission and approved by both boroughs.

            According to the court document, either municipality could terminate the agreement by providing six months written notice to the other.  However, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement does not address the borough's responsibilities related to the Police Commission's existing contract obligations to the police chief and officers.

            The Police Commission consisted of two members of the governing body of East Greenville and Pennsburg and the mayor of each borough.

            The document goes on to state that in 2013 the Police Commission agreed to a collective bargaining agreement with the Upper Perk Police officers for the years 2014 through 2017.  The contract does not allow for early termination of the Police Agreement without a collectively bargained modification.

            It also states that in 2015 the Police Commission separately entered into an employment agreement with the police chief for the calendar years 2015 through 2018.

            East Greenville officials notified Pennsburg in September 2016 that they voted to unilaterally terminate the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement and dissolve the Police Commission on March 6, 2016.  The date for ending the agreement was revised to June 1, 2017 to allow the possibility of a mediated solution.  According to the filing, that mediation never occurred.  Pennsburg officials had requested that East Greenville modify the dissolution date to Dec. 31, 2017 to provide sufficient time to mediate and avoid the risk of default on the Police Commission's obligations.

            In November 2016, Pennsburg officials offered to pay an additional 2.5 percent ($36,000) for 2017, raising their contribution rate from 45 percent to 47.5 percent for the year and decreasing East Greenville's contribution from 45 percent to 42.5 percent. 

            The offer wasn't accepted, and on June 1, East Greenville unilaterally terminated the agreement and forced the dissolution of the police commission.

            Since that date, Pennsburg borough has been paying the full amount to satisfy the obligations of both contracts. 

            Pennsburg officials are asking the court to "decree and declare" that the borough and East Greenville are joint employers of the police officers and chief of police of the Upper Perk Police District, subject to the officers and chief's contract and that Pennsburg is entitled to a financial contribution from East Greenville in an amount equal to 45 percent of all wages and benefits paid to the officers after June 1, 2017.  In addition to wages, it also includes insurances and payments necessary to maintain the actuarial soundness of the pension fund.

            A decision for Pennsburg could cost East Greenville in excess of $300,000.

            Also, the court action is requesting that Pennsburg is entitled to complete indemnification by East Greenville with respect to any unfair labor practice or breach of contract claims related to the police or chief's contract and caused by East Greenville's termination of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement.






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