No change in policing for Laflin
LAFLIN — Laflin Borough will stick with state police for its law enforcement.
A second reading of the 2018 budget at Tuesday’s council meeting included continuing to rely on state police, as well as no increase for property taxes or sewer fees.
Laflin’s millage rate for local property taxes is 1.8476. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property, so at a 1.8476 rate, a Laflin property owner with a $100,000 property pays $184.76 each year to the borough.
The budget is scheduled for a final vote at the December meeting.
Police coverage has been an ongoing issue in the borough.
An effort to organize regional police coverage with neighboring municipalities did not materialize and the three winners for council seats in this month’s election supported staying with state police, borough manager Charles Boyd said.
In December 2014, borough council disbanded the local police department, opting to use state police for coverage.
The council majority said that eliminating the department would help reduce a deficit, avoid a property tax increase and help free up funding to make repairs to borough infrastructure.
State police coverage is free for the borough.
For two years, the borough relied on state police for coverage, although it participated in some discussions regarding a potential regional police force. In June of this year, borough council agreed to stay in those talks, although it didn’t commit the borough to joining a regional department.
But in September, Dupont dropped out of the group of municipalities that had been exploring the idea. Jenkins Twp., Pittston Twp. and Laflin remained in the group, but Dupont’s exit put plans for the regional force on hold.
The study group had been finalizing contract and pension issues with officers who would staff the department and in June, it advertised for openings on the proposed force.
But after the municipal election, when voters chose incumbent Carl Yastremski as well as newcomers Paul J. Benderavich and Anthony D’Eliseo, the idea for a regional police force looks finished in Laflin for now.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first council meeting since the Oct. 25 fire that killed 16-year-old Erik Dupree, 12-year-old Devon Major and 7-year-old Ezekiel Major.
State police charged Preston Daquen Bonnett with homicide and arson for the deaths. Prosecutors said he was angry after being kicked out of the house and had threatened the family.
Insurance adjusters have been looking at the property but haven’t issued a report to the borough yet, Boyd said.
After that fatal fire and the damage to the property, “neighbors would love to see that house go away,” Yastremski said. He wondered if the borough could get involved to strike a deal that would see it take over the property and demolish it.
“There are a lot of ‘ifs’ there,” said Solicitor Stephen Menn.