By Amanda Amsel
In an effort to save the township money, the Franklin Township Police Department has applied for a federal grant to cover expenses.
The department recently applied for the COPS Hiring Grant. The grant pays for 75 percent of an officer’s salary for three years with a cap of $125,000 per officer.
“Because our department is so small, we could only apply for one officer’s salary,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Allan Wheeler. “However, if we received the grant we would get approximately $68,000 in grant funding.”
According to Wheeler, the average officer in Franklin Township earns a salary of $41,500 a year. In addition, they receive approximately $44,000 in benefits including their retirement system, medicare, medical hospitalization, life insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, a secondary insurance policy and worker’s compensation.
This grant is just one of many grants the financially troubled township has applied for in recent years. The police department also recently received a grant for safety vests and a new camera system in their cars.
Currently, the police department is facing serious financial issues and is asking taxpayers to approve a 3.92-mil permanent levy this November. If the levy is approved, Franklin Township homeowners would pay approximately $135 a year per $100,000 home. This would result in an additional $585,000 a year for the police department.
Because of financial issues, the police department has laid off four officers and has borrowed approximately $233,800 from the township’s general fund. Recently, the police department realized they had only spent 42 percent of their budget for the year and brought back two of the laid off officers, increasing the department’s staff to six full-time officers. If the levy is approved, the department plans to return their staffing to 11 full-time officers, including the chief.
According to Wheeler, this grant is just one of many efforts the department is doing to live within their means. The department also plans to apply for grants for a radio upgrade the county has told the township they have to do.
“Currently, we’re using an analog system, but we have been told we need to move to digital radio,” Wheeler said. “This is another unexpected expense that we honestly can’t afford. Right now, the township’s secretary and I are looking for federal grants to pick up this expense.”
Wheeler said the department “penny pinches” anywhere they can, even forgoing salary increases.
“It’s tough to run this department right now,” he said. “These grants help, but they are not enough.”
Wheeler said the saving grace for the department will be the passing of the levy and said the department plans to hold public meetings in September and October, as well as pass out literature.
“The money we are asking for is to maintain salary and our equipment,” Wheeler said. “We don’t want to buy a plane or a SWAT vehicle. We simply want to have three shifts 24 hours a day seven days a week and have reliable vehicles for our officers.”