Green Lane residents and business owners made it clear they were unhappy and dissatisfied with the loss of local police coverage at the Jan. 10 borough council meeting.
Marlborough Police stopped patrolling the borough as of Dec. 31, 2012 because Green Lane didn’t agree to pay $39,000, including a 5 percent increase, for police protection requested by Marlborough Township. Green Lane, instead, budgeted $28,000 for 2013. They paid $36,000 in 2012.
Craig Hirthler, owner of Green Lane William Penn, located on Route 29, asked officials if it was a matter of economics why the police coverage was discontinued. Hirthler reminded borough officials that the Univest Bank in the borough was robbed at gunpoint twice during previous periods without local police coverage.
When asked by other residents and business owners what the problem was, Council President Brian Carpenter said Marlborough officials were almost unwilling to sit down and meet with borough representatives and negotiate some sort of deal.
“I had had been trying to meet with Marlborough officials since September. When I did eventually meet with them, there was only one 15 minute meeting, and that was it. They kept insisting that they needed to figure out their budget before they could make any decision. When I finally did contact them again, I was told they had already penciled us in for the $39,000. They were unwilling to work with us.”
Charles Smith, of 122 Main Street, expressed his frustration, “It takes the state police hours to respond. I’ve already had my home, garage and vehicle robbed.”
Walter Scherzer, of 413 4th Street, said the state police only have one patrol vehicle with two troopers that cover a large area of the county during the weekends. He also referenced the constant vandalism that continues to occur at Isaac Smith Park by juveniles.
“By the time the state police arrive, these kids are long gone,” he said.
Scherzer also expressed his frustration with money expenditures like lead collection.
“I think that’s a waste. What did residents do years ago? I think that money could be better spent and used for police protection.”
Along with other residents and business owners, Becky Supplee, of Becky’s Place Salon, located at 504 Main Street, asked borough officials, “How far apart are you, money wise, with Marlborough, on this issue? Only $11,000? Then, why don’t you raise taxes? When’s the last time the borough raised taxes?”
“Twelve years ago,” replied Carpenter.
“Twelve years. Then don’t you think it’s time to raise taxes again; at least to pay for police protection?” she asked.
Supplee also insisted that borough business owners are entitled to some sort of local police protection for their taxes.
With the topic of raising taxes, some mentioned they would be willing to pay anywhere from $10-$50 for local police. The majority agreed they would be willing to foot a tax increase for Marlborough to return to patrolling the borough.
However, Councilpersons Jerry Godshall and Salaam Majeed disagreed. “We do not agree with that thinking,” they said, noting the small group at the meeting may not represent the majority of residents or property owners in the borough.
Carpenter reiterated his own view. “Revenues from real estate taxes, along with residents’ wages have decreased over the last two years. What we had to do is compensate for those losses. That is why the budget is so tight and this no time for a tax increase. Besides that, we feel that the residents can better determine how to spend their money than the government.
“In recent years Marlborough Police has not been providing 24/7 protection. Despite that, we’re still paying for that protection. This is one of the points we we’re trying to bring across to Marlborough.”
He went on to add, “When they’re not working, you’re still going to get state police.”
Carpenter also made it clear the $28,000 allocated for police protection will remain just for that at this time.