West Chester budget includes police body cameras

West Chester Twp. plans to spend $44.8 million this year, with the lion’s share going toward its police and fire departments.

Police and fire services make up more than 60 percent of the operating budget that was presented to trustees this week. The police spending plan totals $15.2 million, and fire and EMS spending is expected to reach $15.6 million.

Police Chief Joel Herzog included $125,000 for body cameras in the budget, but the department is still evaluating the law enforcement tool.

“We are exploring the implementation of body worn cameras to meet the community expectations for transparency and to serve as a critical training tool,” he said. “I appreciate the patience the board has shown during this process. The acquisition and implementation of body worn cameras has continually been studied while we waited for the courts to consider their application from a public records and enforcement standpoint.”

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The 2017 operating budget proposal represents an increase over the 2016 spending plan that was set at at $43 million, however actual expenditures only reached $37 million last year, which was 13.4 percent less than budget.

“It’s important to note that the 2017 operational budget does not represent approval of any specific expenditure or any proposed project,” Township Administrator Judi Boyko said. “Rather it provides collectively staffs’ priorities.”

The general fund, which pays for most day-to-day expenses — except police and fire which are funded through levies — was budgeted at $7.2 million and a $10 million carryover from last year is planned. The township plans to continue a practice started in 2009 that sends $1.5 million from the general fund over for road work.

Boyko said catering to millennials — there are more than 90 million in the United States — by providing services they want is also crucial in developing goals for West Chester’s future.

"In 2017 staff believe it is essential that the board of trustees consider quality of life, infrastructure and amenities investment, looking at those values and attributes that ranked us as one of America's best places to live," she said. "We would like for the board to take some insight and some consideration into those amenities. We think this is important now in 2017 and beyond because especially at this time when trends and consumer choices and preferences look for a more urban environment."

In keeping with the stated goals, the township has a five-year capital improvement project list and the total plan for this year is $33.6 million, most of the money for the projects — $27.2 million — comes from Tax Increment Financing money.


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