PA Dem Seeks to Tax Marcellus Towns to Cover Trooper Costs

Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, wants to assess a tax on rural municipalities in Marcellus Shale areas without a police department who rely on PA State Troopers to assist them, to help fund the expense of the troopers. Sturla, chairman of the House Democratic Policy Committee, says the money the state spends on troopers for some 1,300 municipalities is money not available to spend on other transportation-related purposes.

The money transferred from the Motor License Fund to support state police highway patrols in more than 1,300 municipalities that don’t have local police departments is money not available to spend on road and bridge projects, he said.

A gubernatorial commission offered a series of recommendations last summer to generate $2.5 billion annually in new revenue for bridge, road and mass transit projects, but Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to endorse any of them.

Sturla said the development of the Marcellus Shale reserves is challenging long-held assumptions about rural areas not being wealthy enough to have their own police departments. He said the coverage provided by troopers amounts to a subsidy not available to municipalities with their own police departments.*

Corbett has made some new equipment purchases part of his budget proposal, but Sturla wants to go further:

Corbett has addressed one facet of the trooper coverage issue in his proposed 2012-13 state budget. He wants to earmark the 50 percent local share in fines from moving vehicle tickets issued by troopers in municipalities they patrol to buy radios and protective equipment for the state police. That would amount to $8 million annually.

Sturla said the governor’s proposal is a step in the right direction, but he wants to go further.

He has sponsored legislation to apply an annual state per capita fee to municipalities without police departments that rely on state troopers.*

*Wilkes-Barre The Citizens’ Voice (Mar 26, 2012) – Democratic lawmaker challenges state trooper subsidy