By Amanda Ensinger
A local township that plans on asking voters to approve a fire levy this fall also anticipates asking for a police levy in the coming years. At a recent special meeting, Franklin Township Police Department officials discussed the need to ask voters for these funds.
“We have a five-year timed levy that is set to expire at the end of 2022,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith. “Where things stand at the end of March or May 2022, we will have to ask for another levy.”
Smith said the department needs the funds to keep its current staffing level. He said prior to this levy being approved, the department only had five full-time staffers and were operating limited hours and shifts.
“Currently, we have 13 full-time officers and three part-time officers,” Smith said. “We need an additional levy to be able to continue to provide the current service we offer to township residents.”
The millage amount and if the levy would be timed or permanent is still being discussed by township leaders.
The police department has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year.
“Those levies are well over 20 years old and decrease in value as time goes on,” Smith said. “As a result, we have to find other avenues of revenue to makeup those funds.”
Smith said if voters reject a levy, the department would most likely have to cut staff and reduce the services and hours of operation. He said officers would not be able to respond to some types of calls.
“It really will depend on the type of service residents want when we ask voters to approve this levy,” Smith said. “With a smaller staff, we won’t be able to provide the same service we do now. If residents are OK with us not responding to some types of calls, then they may be OK with not having another levy.”
Some of the calls officers would not respond to include minor violations and home complaints, including complaints about loud noise.
Smith said if the township is not able to pass a levy, the department would lose at least three to five officers.
This would be the second levy the township would be asking for within a two-year period as the fire department is asking for a timed levy this November. The fire department previously asked for a 19.5-mill permanent levy in the spring, but voters didn’t approve the levy.
This time the fire department is going to ask for a timed levy and the trustees are still determining the millage amount. The township is considering anywhere from a 5.89-mill to 13-mill levy.
The fire department’s 5.89-mill levy five-year timed levy will expire at the end of 2021. The fire department also collects from three permanent levies.