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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Towns demand N.J. pay State Police bill

TRENTON — More than 125 local elected officials from mostly rural New Jersey towns signed up to attend a meeting Thursday night to demand that the state continue to pay for State Police services in rural communities without police departments.

The meeting came a month after 89 towns received a prospective bill in the mail from the state Department of the Treasury, detailing what they would owe the state in order to keep receiving State Police response to calls for police service. The towns have until Dec. 15 to make a decision about staying with the State Police or making other arrangements.

The state has paid for rural coverage since 1921, when the force was established. But Gov. Corzine has said it's time for rural towns to help pay the cost because of the state's financial situation and because taxpayers in municipalities with their own police departments shouldn't have to fund police services in rural communities as well.

Under the state budget, the towns must contribute $12.6 million toward the overall $80 million the state says it costs to provide the rural police services.

Thursday's meeting in Ewing was the towns' latest attack on the State Police fees for service.

"There's a fairness issue here. They're being asked to pay for services, but they don't know what level of services are going to be provided," said William Dressel Jr., executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, which organized the meeting.

These towns don't get State Police neighborhood patrols, said Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow, R-Hunterdon. Troopers respond to an incident when they're called and leave when they're finished, she said. [Mark Godsey]

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