By Amanda Ensinger
At a recent Franklin Township meeting, employees demanded an update from the board about what will happen with the police department after the latest levy failure.
Roger Myers said employees of the police department have patiently been waiting for answers and have heard little from the board.
The township’s current five-year timed levy is set to expire in December and residents have three separate times rejected permanent police levies for the department. The department also has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year.
“We are looking at keeping a total of four people after layoffs are completed,” said Nick Dunn, fiscal office.
The department was operating 24 hours a day when there was adequate staffing. When the recent levy failed, the department had 10 full-time and three part-time officers.
“We recommend eliminating part-time officers to save money,” Myers said. “Five of the eight union members support eliminating the part-time officers at this time.”
However, not all employees of the department support this strategy and think laying off part-time officers will provide less service to residents.
“Residents feel they are not getting what they paid for,” said Sergeant Todd Moore. “Instead, we could eliminate the lieutenant position to save a bit more money.”
While trustee Jim Leezer said that idea was not off the table, trustee John Fleshman said they we need to look at any tactics that would stretch the money as far as they could.
While the current levy the township is trying to replace doesn’t run out until December, Dunn said the money is now set to run out at the end of October.
The board approved laying off all part-time officers. Trustees Leezer and Ralph Horn voted yes, while Fleshman voted no.
“I voted no because I want to keep as many officers on the street as possible,” Fleshman said.
Horn said he understands the impact of his vote, which is why he supports asking voters to once again to approve a levy. At a recent meeting, the board said they would like to ask voters for a fourth time to approve a police levy.
The board wants to again ask for a 7.3 -mill permanent levy.
“I am upset that we have to layoff officers and am asking everyone to band together to get support for the upcoming levy,” Horn said. “I want the police department to have the best they can possibly have.”
Myers asked if the levy in November fails again, would the department continue to ask residents for levies.
“Yes,” Fleshman said. “If we don’t and the department has to start over, it will be hard to get the same department again.”
The trustees also announced the department would be eliminating third shift because of the recent levy failing, something Moore also opposed.
“Ending third shift is a threat to the public,” Moore said.