This time, Williamsport City Council said yes.
Four years ago, City Council rejected plans for a federal grant to fund three police officers due to long-term, post-grant costs.
Last week, council voted 6-1 to take a federal grant of $419,010 to hire two police officers for three years, with the fourth year cost to be drawn from the city's General Fund.
First off, we are glad for the additional two officers, expected to be hired in the fall. Given the number of upcoming retirements of seasoned officers and the city's crime issues, they are needed.
But it's the age-old dilemma of what is needed and what is affordable. And in the fourth year, these will become city General Fund costs.
Council's overriding opinion this time seems to be that legacy costs are not being created. The estimated $200,000 cost for the final year is to be paid for primarily by creation of an escrow account of $50,000 from 2013 to 2016. That is money that is not available for other city uses, plain and simple.
And what about after 2016, should the city want to maintain the officers?
We agree with Councilwoman Liz Miele, who cast the lone dissenting vote against acceptance of the grant, that once again not all the cost issues related to the grant were settled.
The protection is needed and we like that Mayor Gabriel J. Campana wants to restart community policing, putting the officers in specific neighborhoods. That especially makes sense given the rise in home and business burglaries, thefts and stolen vehicles in the city, not to mention an arsonist at large in the Newberry Section.
But four years from now, when the city is dealing with these costs, let's not forget that even legitimate priorities more police protection are not free.