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East Greenville Wins Police Lawsuit with Pennsburg
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            A Montgomery County judge ordered Pennsburg Borough to pay East Greenville $83,553.75 in restitution for the equipment it kept following the dissolution of the Upper Perk Police Department. In a three-page decision issued May 18, Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey S. Saltz ruled that Pennsburg's decision to keep the equipment for its police department constituted a breach of the parties' agreement.

            Pennsburg Council – which filed the civil case six years ago against the neighboring municipality – does not plan on appealing the decision based on the advice of its solicitor, according to President Diane Stevens. She wrote in a text message that the money would be paid out of borough funds.

            "It's not budgeted," Stevens wrote in a message received Wednesday morning.

            The awarded total accounts for 45 percent of the value of the equipment retained by Pennsburg following the July 1, 2017 dissolution of the Upper Perk Police District, according to Saltz's decision. It states that the dissolution agreement provides two alternative courses of action: either a sale of assets (presumably with distribution of the proceeds) or a distribution of the equipment and other assets in kind.

            "Contrary to this requirement, Pennsburg simply retained the equipment for itself," the judge wrote on page three of the decision.

            While East Greenville won its counterclaim regarding the equipment, Saltz ruled in favor of the borough on a request regarding police pension funding. The judge determined that East Greenville is not required to fund Pennsburg Borough's police pension fund.

            Saltz, who heard arguments from attorneys via Zoom on May 9, determined that neither the inter-municipal agreement nor the collective bargaining agreement obliged either borough to continue funding the police pension once it leaves the agreement. He wrote that Pennsburg could not identify any provision of Pennsylvania law that would require continuing contributions from withdrawing municipalities.

            Further, the judge determined that East Greenville's share of the police pension fund was fully funded while it remained in the commission. He ruled that the court does not see a basis for requiring East Greenville to contribute to the pension of the officers since they ceased serving the borough's residents, according to the second page of the decision.

            On Sept. 6, 2016, East Greenville Council voted unanimously to end the agreement that established the Upper Perk Police District.

            "We regret to announce that we will serve notice to the Borough of Pennsburg that we have voted to terminate the contract that establishes" the commission, said former council Vice President Tracey Hunsinger, reading from a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, our partnership has deteriorated to the extent that it is irretrievably broken."

            In 2014 – amid budget negotiations between members of the police commission, which consisted of council members of both municipalities – former Mayor Ryan Sloyer proposed that East Greenville sever its contract with Pennsburg and start its own three-person police department, according to an article in the Dec. 3, 2014 Town and Country. At that time, Sloyer estimated his plan would save the borough between $120,000 and $150,000 annually.






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