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No police regionalization action taken at contentious Old Lycoming meeting

The Old Lycoming Township supervisors meeting was contentious at times as attendees questioned the need for and demanded details about a plan to regionalize the township police with Jersey Shore area’s Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police.

Supervisors David Shirn and Dave Kay — absent of Supervisor Linda Mazzullo — could only field questions and did not vote on any substantive regionalization issues. A special meeting might be arranged to set up a community-at-large session at the volunteer fire company station on Dewey Avenue, Mazzullo previously told the Sun-Gazette.

Nathan DeRemer, chief of Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department and interim township chief, responded to an advertisement in a local publication, where he refuted allegations by Concerned Citizens of Old Lycoming Township of purposefully giving disinformation.

Specifically, DeRemer clarified that the township building renovation was more than $600,000, or closer to $627,000, which is the balance owed on a $1.1 million loan. The renovation that was discussed between a road crew building and township building was over $1 million. The recent balance on the loan was about $627,000 not $300,000, which pertained to the location where the office and police department are located, as stated in a previous powerpoint presentation.

Resident Paul McBride asked supervisors why the state Department of Community and Economic Development survey being used that had information gathered in 2019 and released in 2020 could not be updated by a new, independently done study.

The formula in the study does not change, Kay noted. What does change is the assessed value and population in the original regional police study completed by DCED. Tax assessed value will change while population is taken from the last census. It is a recommended DCED formula for their guide.

Resident Tim Shumbat said the confusion in the regionalization steps has been caused by a lack of transparency and by cease and desist letters that were sent to him and others who had asked questions about the process. The supervisors later admitted the measure of sending letters was wrong.

“There has been no consistent message of truthfulness and no transparency,” Shumbat said.

Other than waiting for information on the bargaining units involved in the process, the information has been lacking, he said.

Shumbat said the public has a right to know the various pay scales and job descriptions in such a merger or regionalization of a police department.

Resident Marilyn Satterfield wondered why the township police department was “broken” and why it had to change.

James Sortman, a resident and former police officer and retired district judge in the township, said there was a need for updated study information before voting for a regionalization of police.

Such gaps include the cost of living, new and lost membership municipalities, and the coverage and patrol area — which has gone from a starting range of 88.7 square miles when the discussions began in 2020 to 216 square miles and perhaps 350 square miles by next year.

“We need a non-biased comprehensive study,” Sortman said.

Two women fought with each other in the outer doorway after the meeting was over. The brief physical interlude was broken up after a few seconds and calm was restored as people left the building.

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