No change in polic­ing for Laflin

The Citizens' Voice - - Local / State - BY BILL WELLOCK STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: bwellock@cit­i­ 570-821-2051, @CVBillW

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.

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