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Borough, township share services

February 13, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Once a month, Chief John Fleagle of the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Co. reports to the Washington Township Supervisors on the activities of his department.

He is followed immediately by Ron Flegel, chief of the Waynesboro Fire Department, who reports on the calls his department made in the township.

Waynesboro emergency vehicles regularly cross the borough line to respond to fires, accidents and other emergencies in the township because it can reach the scene faster than a unit from Blue Ridge Summit, six miles up the mountain.

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The situation is especially true in Zullinger in the township's west end. To get there, Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue emergency vehicles would have to drive through Waynesboro's entire downtown to get to the west side.

The Washington Township Supervisors pay the Waynesboro Borough Council $50,000 to $60,000 a year for Waynesboro Fire Department service.

Fire service is one example of the kinds of cooperation under way between Washington Township and the Borough of Waynesboro. Some agreements are historic, some relatively new. Discussions on future cooperative agreements are ongoing among representatives of both municipalities.

The borough's population is 9,500; the township's 11,500.

Michael A. Christopher has served as Washington Township's manager for 27 years. His counterpart in the borough, Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger, has had his job for 24 years.

The municipalities also share snowplowing and police services.

Waynesboro's police department currently is one person short of a total complement of 20 officers. Washington Township has 12 police officers.

Township police use the borough's shooting range and the borough's K-9 unit. When a major emergency occurs, both departments respond, geography notwithstanding.

When a twin-engine plane crashed into a home on South Potomac Street in the borough in August 1994 killing four people, township police set up their communication system, Christopher said.

"The cooperative effort between the two departments means there are more officers available," he said. "They can provide five, six, 10 officers or more if a major effort is needed."

The most significant and cost-saving areas of cooperation deal with public water and sewer services.

Each municipality has its own autonomous agency - the Washington Township Municipal Authority and the Waynesboro Borough Authority - to handle the utilities.

The municipalities cooperate on the utilities.

"It's a big deal," Christopher said. "We trade a tremendous amount of sewer capacity with the borough, gallon for gallon."

It would cost each municipality millions of dollars to run its own water and sewer lines, the administrators said. Mutual agreements will become even more crucial as construction begins on planned major commercial and residential developments in both jurisdictions.

The agreements are so tight that the township has a representative on the Waynesboro Borough Authority.

The municipalities cooperate on grant applications in areas where both can benefit, Hamberger said.

Each municipality seeks the other's advice in preparing comprehensive plans. Rezoning and major land development plans are sent back and forth between government offices for comments on utility availability and to share engineering expertise, Hamberger said.

"We try not to reinvent the wheel," Christopher said.

"What the borough does affects the township and vice versa," Hamberger said. "We strive to cooperate as much as we can."

"There's even more potential for sharing more of all of our services in the future," Christopher said. "The potential is there for consolidating our police departments, fire departments, even our governments, with Waynesboro and Washington Township becoming one entity."

"That would be extraordinarily rare in Pennsylvania," Hamberger said.

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