Many communities that rely on state police for coverage don't have enough people to support and maintain a local police department, but two area townships that are among the largest and wealthiest in our area simply choose not to have their own departments.
Loyalsock and Hazle Townships have a police budget of zero. And people in neighboring communities say because the townships use the state police to enforce the law, taxpayers foot the bill.
Loyalsock Township in Lycoming County is the ninth largest community in our region. It's a growing retail center that borders the city of Williamsport.
"Our crime rate is not high, so we're not looking to add a police force or do anything different than what we've done the last hundred years," said township supervisor Mark Sortman.
Hazle Township is the 20th largest municipality in the region but it has no police department, despite wealth generated by two busy industrial parks.
"They don't only employ people from Hazle Township, they create a lot of jobs for the entire area," said township supervisor Jim Montone.
John Turner is a retired businessman who works with numbers.
"Not only are they not paying their fair share, but they're putting an unnecessary burden on the state police," Turner said.
Turner says his property taxes help pay for local police protection from Kingston Township, but his state taxes fund the state police that provides protection for communities that can but don't have local police.
State figures show the average cost for local departments in our area is around $106 per person.
That $106 is exactly what people in Kingston Township pay for their police protection. That's a lot less than what people in larger cities pay for.
Records from the state Department of Economic Development show it costs Scranton residents $300 per person for police protection. It's $260 per resident in Williamsport.
In less populated areas, police coverage in Shamokin costs $230 per resident, $201 in Pittston, and $200 in Honesdale.
That number is zero in Hazle and Loyalsock Townships.
"Why pay for what one can get free? And no one is forcing them to do it," said Turner.
"You know, I hear that rich uncle stuff all the time," said Montone.
In the coming years, Hazle Township supervisor Jim Montone predicts his community may consider joining a regional police department made up of communities in southern Luzerne County.
Loyalsock Township supervisor Mark Sortman says there will be no police department in Loyalsock as long as the crime rate stays low.
"We don't feel like we get the additional value to the cost to our residents," Sortman said.
Governor Wolf has proposed communities that rely on state police for coverage pay $25 per resident to cover some of the cost of police protection.
That is far less than the $106 per person that the average police department costs to run and maintain in northeastern and central Pennsylvania.