YORK AREA REGIONAL POLICE COMMISSION
DECEMBER 12, 2013
A public meeting of the York Area Regional Police Commission was held on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at the York Area Regional Police Building, 33 Oak St., York, PA 17402.
Those present were Paul Smith, Commissioner, Albert Granholm, Commissioner, Paul Redifer, Commissioner, Rodney Sechrist, Commissioner, Ronald Smith, Commissioner, Thomas Gross, Chief of Police, and Tracy Fleming, Business Administrator.
Commissioner Paul Smith called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm.
Pledge of Allegiance.
The Chief stated this is the final meeting for Chairman Paul Smith. The Chief expressed his thanks and appreciation for the 14 years of service given by Commissioner Paul Smith. The Chief discussed the start of the Regional Department and the involvement of Commissioner Paul Smith. The Chief presented Commissioner Paul Smith with a plaque. The badge on the plaque says Commissioner Retired – York Area Regional Police Commission. The plaque reads “In Recognition of 14 Years of Dedicated Leadership as a Founding Member of York Area Regional Police Commission”.
Commissioner Paul Smith thanked everyone from the Department and Commission for the opportunity to be a part of the York Area Regional Police Department. As an individual you have limitations; accomplishments are usually made by working together as a team. He was fortunate to be part of a group that had a vision to form a Regional Police Department. He acknowledged the team that consisted of two Commissioners from York Township, Dave Hamberger, II and Bob Kessler then later Phil Briddell, the York Township Manager at that time, Mark Derr, Windsor Township Manager at that time, Marlene Workinger and Chief Gross. They all worked together. If it were not for these people, he certainly would not be sitting at this recognition. He thanked each and every person who is a part of this Department. He may not have a close relationship with each and everyone but he does feel he has had the acceptance as a Commission member and felt that a helping hand was always available. He thanked his wife, Sue, who has changed her schedule at times to accommodate him. He thanked the Chief for the support he gave the Commission over the past 13-14 years. The Chief’s knowledge and wisdom is just another reason as a team the York Area Regional Police Department is a realization. He supposes he is going to miss not going to meetings the second Thursday but he is sure he will adjust. In closing he thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve on the York Area Regional Police Commission. He said you are the greatest. Keep up the great work. You have a reason to be proud of your Department.
There were no public comments.
APPROVAL OR AMENDMENT TO MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 13, 2013
Commissioner Granholm made a motion to approve the November 13, 2013 minutes, seconded by Commissioner Redifer, motion carried.
The Chief informed the Commissioners a $500 donation was received from Judith Heaps. The Chief stated this donation is consistently made by Kenneth & Judith Heaps to our department. It is in regards to the death of their daughter, Barbara Heaps and her friend William Haefner in December 1996. It was a traffic accident on Springwood Road by a drunk driver with previous convictions for drunk driving. They have consistently contributed this $500 for the DARE fund.
The Chief stated that both letters discussed at the last meeting have been sent. They were letters for termination of service to Red Lion Borough and Dallastown Area School District.
The Chief advised the Commissioners that he received a communication from Rob Green. He has graciously helped orchestrate the selection of the Citizen at Large Alternate for several years. The Chief announced that Ronald Smith has been reelected as the Citizen at Large Alternate.
POLICE CHIEF’S CONTRACT
Commissioner Granholm had concern the contract term was changed to three years. He said typically if this were a township, we could not enter into anything over two years because of encumbering the future board on an election cycle. Commissioner Paul Smith stated he thinks the one year contract would be renewed continuously if there was no other contract given to supersede this one. Commissioner Granholm stated we have traditionally done a one year contract. There was a discussion on the change in terms on the contract. Commissioner Granholm would ultimately like to see the terms of the contract go from February to January with the board changing at the beginning of the year. Commissioner Redifer believes the Chief was directed at the last meeting to prepare a contract. He has read the contract and personally does not see a problem. Commissioner Ronald Smith stated the only problem is the fact that it has gone from a one year contract; it has been a one year contract since he can remember, to automatically getting hit with a three year contract. He stated no one was ever made aware of this change in executive session, committee or anything else. He does not ever recall a conversation on a three year contract. He would also like to see the term changed to February 1 to January 31 as Commissioner Granholm stated. Then the new board can make the decision. He said it is not a requirement but it is out of consideration. Commissioner Ronald Smith asked Commissioner Redifer if he was going to abstain from the vote or was he going to vote. Commissioner Redifer stated he was going to vote. Commissioner Ronald Smith thought it could be a potential conflict of interest since he worked with the Chief and it has only been about a year since he left the department. Commissioner Paul Smith said that should not make a difference. Commissioner Paul Redifer made a motion to accept the contract as written, seconded by Commissioner Paul Smith. All in favor Commissioner Redifer and Commissioner Paul Smith, all opposed, Commissioner Granholm, motion carried 2 to 1.
POLICE SERVICE CONTRACT UPDATES
Felton Borough – The Chief informed the Commissioners that on December 2, 2013 the Borough voted on the contract. It is a five year contract and they increased their units to three quarters of a unit from half of a unit. A motion was made by Commissioner Granholm to accept the new contract with Felton Borough, seconded by Commissioner Redifer, motion carried.
Dallastown Area School District – The Chief advised the Commissioners they did receive their termination letter discussed at last month’s Commission meeting. The Chief stated that he met with Superintendent Dyer, Assistant Superintendent Doll, Attorney Rehymer and Officer Barley to discuss operational issues not contract issues. Attorney Rehymer will follow up after the holidays.
Red Lion Borough – The Chief had nothing new to report.
The purpose of Resolution 2013-10 is future agreements for police service will include a minimum amount of Police Protection Units that have been determined to be sufficient for public safety. There was a brief discussion on the Resolution. A motion was made by Commissioner Redifer to approve Resolution 2013-10, seconded by Commissioner Granholm, motion carried.
CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION REPORT
There was no Civil Service Report.
Grants – There was nothing new to report.
The Chief stated there was nothing unusual to report in the monthly report.
Approval of Expenses for November 1 – 30, 2013 – $472,632.19
Commissioner Paul Smith asked for a motion to approve the expenses for November 1 – 30, 2013 in the amount of $472,632.19. A motion to approve the expenses was made by Commissioner Granholm, seconded by Commissioner Redifer, motion carried.
The Chief informed the Commissioners there were two budget meetings with Elizabeth Heathcote, Jennifer Gunnet, Fred Krause, Tracy Fleming and himself. He thanked them for their participation in the review of the budget. The Chief stated before he addresses the budget he wanted to discuss the cash flow issue. He did communicate with several vendors, specifically the Health Care Provider and IT provider regarding the payments for 2014. Also, with the meetings that took place with the Township representatives we will now be able to make our year end expenses with a transfer from the Building Fund. This will accomplish our cash needs for the end of the year.
The Chief informed the Commissioners that he made cuts in the contributions to the Post-Employment Health Care Account and the Building Fund. He also made cuts in the area of Capital Purchases – Vehicles. He is hoping to prioritize the replacement of the AEDs which he feels is a critical item. Then with the transfer from the Building Fund this will bring us to a zero budget for 2014. The Chief reviewed the cash balance in the Building Fund for 2014. The Chief reported there is one minor item not on the budget draft which is the PCOR tax. This is currently in the General Expense account and it will now be in a separate account. It will be account number 610.155. George Jones, York Township Commissioner asked to address the Commission on this subject. He stated in the last several weeks while reviewing the Regional Police budget there are some very critical issues. He believes the budget, if approved, will kick the issues down the road for even greater fiscal problems in the next fiscal year. His recommendation, for what it is worth, is that you immediately have your CPA become the budget person, all expenses be preapproved by the Commission prior to writing a check and there be monthly reports to this group and others with regard to an accrued budget with a month to month look at where the expenses are and where the budget is. He believes this is very poor financial management. The Township would never operate with a budget like this. The Township would not stand for it, heads would roll. We are at a critical and important point in the development and ongoing Regional Police service. You must immediately get your fiscal house in order. Commissioner Paul Smith stated he would like to comment. This is with sincerity; he does not want to cause conflict. The bills being approved before payment was always an exercise Windsor Township did. When this department was formed York Township did not operate this way. It was decided at that time they would proceed on the basis of the way York Township operated; bills would be paid then sent to the Board. He said there is nothing wrong with change but that is how it started.
Elizabeth Heathcote, York Township Manager, stated we did meet with the Chief but the numbers you are talking about now are not the numbers we talked about the other day for the cash. This was due to additional deposits and paid expenses since that time. Commissioner Granholm questioned if there is a Cash Flow Analysis being done. There is currently no analysis other than reviewing the Cash Account in QuickBooks. Commissioner Granholm stated he would like to see the budget broke out monthly rather than an annual budget shown on the monthly financial statements. He stated everything looks good until October but then when things get upside down it is too late to do anything about them. Elizabeth Heathcote stated on the 2014 budget that has been presented there is no leeway for any emergency or over spending. So if one of the officers enters the IROP, there is no money set aside to pay the 400 sick hours that would be owed that officer. There is no money in the budget to cover that right now. Commissioner Granholm stated that is a possibility. She asked when this money is gone where are they going to get the rest of the cash. Commissioner Granholm stated this is the question at hand. He stated we need to move forward and rebuild the reserves. She asked how we are going to do that when we already know what the revenue is. He stated we are not at this point going to rebuild anything this year. Commissioner Redifer stated there is only one thing that can be affected which is the unit cost. Commissioner Ronald Smith stated we cannot do that this year. Elizabeth Heathcote asked how the Commissioners knowing that they are in such dire straits approve this budget. Then next year York Township Board of Commissioners has to raise taxes to pay for the York Area Regional Police Department knowing full well what they know tonight, make a positive vote for this budget. She thinks that is going to be totally unacceptable to York Township residents to find out the three of you up there knew full well what you were doing and still voted yes for this budget. She feels this is going to be very difficult for York Township residents to swallow. She feels the Commissioners would be totally wrong in making a yes vote tonight on this budget. Commissioner Paul Smith asked her what she is suggesting. She stated I do not have a suggestion Mr. Smith. She thinks that this has been going on for too long and nobody has looked at the finances. She stated this is not something that just happened this year. Commissioner Paul Smith stated the bucket has been kicked for the last three years. Elizabeth Heathcote stated that is because you got numbers that were not correct. So you made a decision based on bad numbers. She stated that we cannot fault the Commissioners that must go to the Chief. She stated if you are ok to go back to Windsor Township residents and tell them you have to raise taxes that is one thing. But at this point right now speaking for York Township, she does not think they will be in the position for the police to come to them sometime next year and ask for half a million dollars to continue running the Police Department. Commissioner Redifer stated providing police protection is not a cheap item. It is the most expensive part of a budget in a municipality. This Commission for at least the last five years shaved this budget and pressured the cost of police service down to this point. The situation we are in has been brought on by this Commission telling the Chief we can’t raise costs. He does not see any reason or alternative to not passing the budget tonight. Elizabeth Heathcote stated you have wasted so much money here. The Command Unit is nothing more than a hole you are dumping cash into. She stated you do not need it. It is not necessary. It is just a show piece. If you look at the financial statements over the last three or four years and the money that was spent on that piece of equipment, you should be ashamed of yourselves. The money spent on vehicles you can’t find anywhere in the budget. She has asked questions and the answer she gets is to ask the Chief. She said he is not going to give her answers because he is part of the problem. Commissioner Redifer stated he has personally gone over this budget and there is no where he can make any more cuts. You need police cars and equipment to operate a police department. You have increase cost in salary. The police department expenses go up every year but you are asking them to cut their budget. Elizabeth Heathcote asked then why was over $200,000 spent that wasn’t in the budget last year. You have budget line items but you do not stick to them. She asked why there was $25,000 more spent then what was in the budget line. Commissioner Paul Smith stated unless you have specifics he does not want to hear allegations. He stated you said we spent $200,000 over in the budget then he wants to know where that is.
Robert Steele, York Township Commissioner stated if you look at the financial statements and look at the revenues, you will see that York Township is paying essentially one half of the revenue. As we sit here today, York Township has one-third of the votes on this Board. York Township has shown that we have fiscal responsibility as we have approached our costs and maintained our costs to the point we are out of debt. We have a balanced budget for 2014. He has studied the Chief’s budget called final 2014. It is his opinion, he is one voice, and those numbers are soft. He doesn’t think the Department can make it with the numbers shown on the budget labeled 2014 final. He does not want to be in a position next November or October that the police are out of money. The police must get into a financial responsibility which they can see what you are doing as you go through the year. You can’t wait until November and say I need cash; it is not going to work. York Township does not have cash reserves for police. If you look, half of the money collected goes to police protection. That is an extreme amount. He believes this board sitting right here needs to look at the budget carefully and do what is right. What he thinks is right tonight is not to approve this budget. This needs further consideration. Commissioner Paul Smith asked Robert Steele what further consideration he thinks we should take. Robert Steele stated as he said before he feels some of the numbers are soft. He does not feel the department can make it; he is only speaking for himself as a citizen. Commissioner Paul Smith asked him if he thinks we should increase the unit cost this year. Robert Steele stated he does not think this can be done because the municipalities have set their budgets with this unit cost. Commissioner Paul Smith asked him for a solution. He stated you have to monitor your costs. You can’t just spend money then get to the end of the year and say uh oh I need to dig into the reserves again. Commissioner Paul Smith asked what effect does this have on us at least passing the budget. We can’t increase the unit cost. We can only monitor our expenses so what effect does that have on passing the budget. Commissioner Paul Smith said we can still pass the budget and monitor our expenses.
Commissioner Granholm stated he thinks the budget needs to be broken out by month to see how the money is going to flow out versus income coming in. We also need to do a cost analysis and a cash flow analysis. So if you know you are getting “x” dollars in a month then this is how we are going to spend it for the month. So then you can track it. If something gets in the hole you can adjust it elsewhere. Then you put in your procedural things. We need to approve theses expenses before they occur. We need to approve capital expenses before they occur. He said that some of the line items are pretty tight. So if we need to make adjustments somewhere else we can. He is not saying don’t buy any cars but you may only buy one car or two cars instead of three if something falls into it. With this mechanism there is no way to adjust. Fourteen years ago when it was set up that way it should not have been. York Township used to be run that way but we changed it and didn’t stay with it. He thinks that is the point here tonight. So taking extra time/month to pass the budget until we can build that in and everyone has a comfort level with it. His intention going forward is to have the budget committee formed by July and start reviewing expenses and costs. It will be a committee not an individual. So if there is a problem we have more time to talk about Chief’s contracts and everything else. Instead of getting to December and saying here it is we have to do it. He fully believes down the road the unit cost is going to go up and we have to address the apportionment. We also have to address how overages are dealt with. Tax increases are going to happen but we have to soften that blow. We have to do everything possible to show people. People don’t care what we did here tonight. All they know is their taxes went up and they want to know why. It is not the police who have to sit and listen to that. We are the ones who have to explain to people why their taxes are going up. He regrets this is happening on Commissioner Paul Smith’s last night. It is not a great way to go out but it has to be done. He wants to look at the budget more. He was just getting numbers from his people as recently as Monday and Tuesday. He tries to devote as much as he can. This is not a lot of time to go through these numbers and form a full opinion and understand it. This is highly unusual. This is a how many million dollar budget and it is only three pages. York Township’s budget is broken out in detail. You can make a motion if you want. Commissioner Redifer doesn’t disagree with what Commissioner Granholm is saying. He agrees with Mr. Jones that our CPA should be the go to person for the budget. Maybe we need to do the things you talked about but the numbers are the numbers. We know what the revenue is and we know what we are going to try and meet as expenses. Commissioner Granholm does not fully believe the numbers in this budget have been fully met. He does not like to vote on something or put something to vote until he is sure they are met. We have to start here, it might be hard but once it gets rolling, we need to go back to Chief’s recap on this department when it was formed. A lot of tough decisions had to be made. It was a tough process and he is sure not everyone agreed with it. But you did it and got it going. Things have to change, at this point as we are stepping back to fully understand this more. We can address concerns then we can pass it or do whatever. Commissioner Paul Smith asked if we don’t pass the budget can we still increase the unit cost? Commissioner Granholm said he does not think at this point. Commissioner Paul Smith said so in January they will pay the old rate then this will put us in more debt. Commissioner Granholm said that is a valid point. He said make a motion if you want to pass it then pass it. Commissioner Paul Smith stated normally the Chairman does not make a motion. Commissioner Paul Smith stated he would like to make a motion to pass the budget and also see another motion to start some of the items that have been discussed. Commissioner Paul Smith stated he is not doing this to be nasty and he knows he is going to be critized for doing this. Commissioner Paul Smith made a motion to pass the 2014 budget, seconded by Commissioner Redifer. All in favor Commissioner Paul Smith and Commissioner Redifer, all opposed Commissioner Granholm, motion carried 2 to 1. Commissioner Paul Smith stated the reason he made the motion is to be able to increase the unit cost because if not the more we will be in debt. There was a discussion on resolutions for the future such as the budget must be balanced; capital expenses over a certain amount must be approved before purchasing.
The Chief asked to respond to the above items. The request was made when we prepared the final budget for there to be a zero balance. There were some comments made that we do not have a reserve or a cushion. We did that at the direction of the Commission from the last meeting. It is his understanding the budget can be reopened in January regardless of the action taken tonight. He feels it is helpful that there is a motion that will allow us to invoice the amounts for 2014 so we can have revenue come in. On a personal point he would like to make it clear. If there are questions about soft numbers, hard numbers or numbers at all, he does not hear anyone saying nor does he feel there is any impropriety in any of the expenditures. All of the revenue and expenditures are accounted for. All the amounts in previous years are based on constant instructions to keep the unit cost at a minimum. So we have never put money in reserves that is customarily done in municipalities. There are mistakes here and a year-end balance that did not consider the accruals. There is no impropriety and he wants the record to reflect that. He and his staff are willing to sit down and discuss any item on the budget. He can’t say what the command unit cost as we sit here tonight. He can’t say that it is a high cost item without knowing the numbers. He is always happy to answer questions that are directed to him. He has answered questions that are directed to him. He would just like these comments added to the minutes.
There is no report.
POLICE CHIEF’S REPORT
The Chief stated the Commissioners have his written report and he has nothing else to add.
Commissioner Redifer thanked the Commissioners for allowing him to serve the past year on the Board. There is no one person happier than him in this room that this is his last meeting. He thanked Commissioner Paul Smith for his years of service not 14 but 31. In February 1982 he signed the papers to make him a police officer for Windsor Township. He appreciates that and all of his help and guidance over the years.
Commissioner Granholm offered his personal thanks and gratitude to Commissioner Paul Smith. His numerous achievements have been highlighted tonight. Anyone who can put 30 plus years in municipal government should get some award greater than a plaque. It was an honor and privilege to serve with him on this board. He also thanked Commissioner Redifer. He knows it has been a tough year. He thanked him for his service with the department and on this board. He wished everybody in the department, audience and everywhere a safe and happy holiday.
Commissioner Sechrist thanked Commissioner Paul Smith for his service.
Commissioner Ronald Smith congratulated Commissioner Paul Smith on his last evening and for his years of service. He wished him well in his future endeavors. He thanked Commissioner Redifer for his service. He knows it was a tough year.
Commissioner Paul Smith thanked everybody for their kind remarks. The Commissioners will have a busy agenda in 2014. He would like to encourage each and every member of the Commission to work together. Remember your duty to serve the residents of your municipality. Special interest agendas will not provide residents with the kind of local government that they deserve. York Area Regional Police Commission is one of the finest in the area. We can all be proud of it. He knows he is. He thanked Commissioner Redifer for his representation on the Commission.
There was no executive session.
A motion was made by Commissioner Paul Smith to adjourn the meeting at 7:12 pm, seconded by Commissioner Redifer, motion carried.
Respectfully submitted and recorded by,
Tracy L. Fleming
UPCOMING MEETING DATES
January 9, 2014