The Times-Tribune

Frein trial may cost taxpayers

Pike County eyes tax hike, in part to offset expense of case

- STAFF WRITER BY PETER CAMERON

Property taxes in Pike County could rise slightly next year in part to cover costs of the upcoming criminal trial of Eric Matthew Frein.

The government proposed a tax increase of 1.2 mills, which would raise an additional $1.2 million, said Matthew Osterberg, chairman of the board of commission­ers.

That would translate to an extra $24 on the tax bill for the average home in Pike County, Mr. Osterberg said. A mill is a $1 tax on every $1,000 of assessed property value. The median assessed residentia­l property value in the county is $19,000.

The extra money is needed to help shore up the county’s pension and medical insurance accounts, as well as to set aside $250,000 for the trial.

The commission­ers will vote on the budget Dec. 28 at the Pike County Administra­tion Building in Milford.

Prosecutor­s accuse Mr. Frein, 33, of Canadensis, of killing state police Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II of Dunmore and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass of Olyphant in the September 2014 sniper attack outside the Blooming Grove barracks.

After a 48-day manhunt, officers captured Mr. Frein at an abandoned airport hangar in Monroe County. Mr. Frein pleaded not guilty.

To ensure Mr. Frein receives a fair trial, his attorneys and the district attorney’s office agreed to select a 16-person jury, including the alternates, from Chester County.

The jury selection and following trial is scheduled to begin March 9.

The county will have to transport and then house the jury in a hotel near the courthouse, which will contribute to the extra expense next year.

Mr. Osterberg said he received estimates that the trial could last as long as eight weeks. “The numbers can really escalate really quickly,” he said.

The “modest” tax hike is the first in four years in Pike County, the chairman said.

“Nobody enjoys raising taxes, but the county has to operate accurately and efficientl­y,” he said.

Mr. Frein remains incarcerat­ed in the Pike County Correction­al Facility.

“He’s pretty consistent,” one of his attorneys, Michael Weinstein, said of his client’s state of mind. “Doing the same. Waiting for his trial.”

The Pike County district attorney said he will seek the death penalty. Contact the writer: pcameron@timesshamr­ock.com @pcameronTT on Twitter MONDAY UPDATE brings Times-Tribune readers up to date on past or pending stories of interest. To offer a suggestion for a Monday Update, please email metrodesk@ timesshamr­ock.com with “Monday Update” in the subject line.

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