By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester City Council is taking steps to clarify the working relationship between the city and the Madison Township Police Department following council’s Sept. 30 committee of the whole meeting.
“We need to work on this partnership,” said Councilman Pat Lynch, who first broached the topic and, along with Councilman Will Bennett, suggested council create a sub-committee to work on a document of understanding between the two entities.
Canal Winchester Law Director Gene Hollins said the county prosecutor’s office is working on a memo outlining a process by which citations written in Canal Winchester by Madison Township officers would be handled at the local level in mayor’s court.
Under state law, township officers have the jurisdiction to patrol the city and write citations, which are then handled outside Canal Winchester’s control.
Hollins said a meeting between the township, city and county focused on if township activity picked up, would it make more sense to have cases heard in Canal Winchester, which could afford more oversight financially and statistically.
Under a county-created memorandum of understanding, charges against a motorist could then be filed in the local court.
Discussion also included the ramifications if the city and the township police department severed ties with each other, such as the potential loss of township fire service or the high cost in creating a city force.
“The reason a lot of cities and villages are still in a township is fire service,” said Hollins.
Canal Winchester Public Service Director Matt Peoples said the township is willing to discuss the issue with city officials.
“We’re looking to open up channels of communication,” said Council President Bruce Jarvis, who suggested the topic be brought up again during the old and new business portion of the regular work session agenda this month.
Council also discussed potential changes to bed tax fund distribution with the upcoming addition of more hotel/motel revenue into city coffers.
“We are getting a lot of additional hotels,” Lynch said, adding that the city is projecting $275,000 in bed tax revenue next year. “It’s a lot of money and the game has changed, but it’s a great problem to have.”
According to Councilman Mike Coolman, the city collects six percent in bed tax, with half of that going into the general fund and the other half split between Destination: Canal Winchester and the city’s grant award program.
“In order to collect bed tax, we must have a tourism bureau and that is Destination: Canal Winchester,” Coolman said.
Councilman Bob Clark suggested a quarter of the city’s share be earmarked for economic development, such as the facade grant program improving the visual appearance of downtown businesses.
“It (economic development) is the only thing that brings in more wealth to our community,” said Clark.