By Amanda Ensinger
A local township will once again ask voters to approve a police levy.
At a recent Franklin Township meeting, the board decided to move forward with a proposed 7.3-mill permanent police levy for the May 3 ballot.
This will be the third time the township has asked taxpayers for a levy. In the fall, the township asked taxpayers to approve a 7.1-mill timed police levy, which would have replaced an existing timed levy that is set to expire at the end of 2022, as well as added an additional 3 mills. That levy was rejected by voters with 56 percent of residents voting against it.
In the spring of 2021, the police department asked for a 7.37-mill permanent levy, but voters also rejected that with 66 percent voting against it.
“We are now seeking to replace the timed levy that will expire in November 2022 with a permanent levy,” said Franklin Township Trustee John Fleshman. “We can’t operate a full-time police department on a timed levy.”
Fleshman said the department continues to lose trained officers because the it has been operating on timed levies. With a permanent levy, leadership feels officers will have the security they need to stay with the department long-term.
The department currently has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those two levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year.
As a result of the recent levy failing, the department has already cut service, including only responding to priority runs.
“The biggest change we are making immediately is we are going to only priority runs 24/7,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith. “We will brown out any shift that doesn’t have coverage, which means no officers out. Most of minors runs and offenses won’t be covered.”
Smith said they will not have to lay off the 10 full-time and four part-time officers they currently have and they will not have the budget to pay for overtime. As a result, Smith said they will have to cut shifts.
Fleshman said while they have not had to reduce staff, they also have not been filling open positions.
“We have had people leave on their own,” Fleshman said. “Usually we have around 13 full-time officers and we don’t have that many right now.”
However, if this proposed levy fails, Fleshman said they are looking at dramatic reductions in staff and could have only four to five full-time officers.
According to Fleshman, township officials are still finalizing the proposed levy costs with the auditor.
For more information on the proposed police levy, visit franklin-townshipohio.gov.