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Former North Lebanon Township manager Cheri Grumbine voiced various concerns with the Lebanon County Regional Police Department draft charter and budget at a North Lebanon and North Cornwall Regional Police Development Committee meeting Thursday, March 8.

The committee also heard public comments on a proposed budget draft for 2025. They estimate expenditures to total $4,949,310, with contributions of $2,165,254.08 from each township combining with other revenues to equal expenditures.

A handout listing items for the regional department’s drafted 2025 budget. North Lebanon supervisor Gary Heisey said he expects insurance and startup costs to be lower than estimated. (Emily Bixler)

In 2024, North Lebanon has budgeted a $2,225,304 contribution to its police department and North Cornwall has budgeted $2,129,184 for its police force. If the budget is accurate, North Lebanon’s cost will be reduced by $60,050 and North Cornwall’s will increase by $36,070.

The budget does not include any grant funding, but committee members are confident a regional department will be able to receive state grants.

It also accounts for the hiring of an additional officer, with 24 officers instead of the 23 currently employed by the departments.

Grumbine, who retired from the township last June after serving as a municipal employee for 37 years, voiced concerns with this budget as well as the drafted charter.

Read More: North Lebanon Township manager retires after 37 years

While the draft allots $100,000 for overtime costs, Grumbine says she feels this will not be sufficient.

Cheri Grumbine addresses the commission Thursday. (Emily Bixler)

North Lebanon budgets $70,000 for regular overtime and $35,000 for holiday overtime and North Cornwall budgets $40,000 for officer overtime without holiday overtime listed.

Her concerns included the logistics of 10- or 12-hour shifts for officers, as well as whether scheduling will adequately account for sick days, vacation days, and training days.

“Once you throw all that into the mix, you have one guy out on the shift, that’s how it’s been here for years,” she said.

NLTPD chief Tim Knight said that with 12-hour shifts, a regionalized department would expect to have five officers per shift covering both townships (and West Lebanon Township).

NLT police chief Tim Knight responds to Grumbine’s concerns. (Emily Bixler)

The details of 12-hour shifts were also discussed at last month’s meeting.

Read More: Regional police steering committee reviews draft of updated charter

She also raised concern with the possible addition of charter members to the department, saying that as members are added, North Lebanon will have less and less control over the governing of the regional department, and thus, its own police coverage.

“Is it really going to benefit you when we already have a police department that works very well?” said Grumbine. “Is that really what is best for our residents? They elect you three [NLT supervisors] but you’re not gonna be in charge anymore.”

Each charter member, after NLT and NCT, would have one member on the governing commission (compared to founding members’ two members), but during setups with an even number of commission members, one at-large member would be selected, alternating between all member municipalities yearly.

From left to right: NLT police chief Tim Knight, North Lebanon Township manager Lori Books, North Lebanon supervisors Ardy Snook and Gary Heisey, and North Cornwall supervisor Mike Wahmann. (Emily Bixler)

This comes after former NLT supervisor Lee Spencer spoke in opposition to regionalization during a township board meeting.

Read More: North Lebanon Township supervisors advertise for 2024 paving

Spencer voiced frustration Thursday with the day’s conversation’s focus on budgeting rather than police safety or coverage.

Lee Spencer speaks Thursday urging the commission to consider officer safety. Emily Bixler

“We went 16 years without hiring – it was wrong. We grew, we got more workload, we got everything, and we didn’t hire,” he said. “What I’ve heard so far is money, but you can’t just predicate this thing on money. There’s a lot more to it than that.

“The police job is the most dangerous, and it’s not just dangerous physically, it’s psychological, too. These guys see things that nobody else sees, and that stays there. So do the right thing. You need manpower.”

The charter, available for viewing below, has not been officially adopted.

The next step, North Lebanon supervisor Gary Heisey said, will be for NLT supervisors to review the document and vote on whether to continue on course to regionalization. If they vote in favor, the charter will be reviewed by an outside labor attorney not associated with either township and brought back before the development committee.

Once the charter draft is finalized, the committee will still need to draft and review other documents and policies before regionalization comes before both townships for a vote. At that time, public hearings will be held for residents to voice their support or concerns.

The next meeting will be held March 27 at the North Lebanon Township building at 3 p.m.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misidentified former North Lebanon Township supervisor Lee Spenser in a photo caption and incorrectly attributed comments that were made by former North Lebanon Township Police Department Chief Tom Kissinger. We sincerely regret the errors.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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