By Amanda Ensinger
A local township is trying to determine how it will manage the police department after a third attempt at a levy failed. At a recent Franklin Township meeting, Fiscal Officer Nick Dunn gave his outlook on the situation.
“The levy fund will potentially run out of money at the end of October, meaning layoff notices need to go out no later than July,” Dunn said.
Leaders plan on scheduling additional meetings to discuss the police department, but acknowledge that whatever decision they make will be hard.
“Some tough decisions are likely coming up,” said Franklin Township trustee John Fleshman.
In May, the township asked voters to approve a 7.3-mill permanent police levy. This was the third time the department had asked taxpayers for a levy. In the fall of 2021, 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 3-mills to the levy.
However, residents rejected the levy.
At the time the levy failed, Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith said the department doesn’t have the funding to the support their current staff.
“Cuts will be imminent to our department unless we receive another funding source,” Smith said. “We can’t operate at our current capacity with the two smaller levies we have. However, it will be up to the board when that will occur.”
The township has 10 full-time and three part-time officers.
Residents have repeatedly said they don’t support a permanent levy and would rather have a timed levy to keep the department and township accountable.
At a recent board meeting, residents voiced concerns about a recent contract the board agreed to that gave police officers an 18 percent raise the first year of the contract.
The department currently has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those two levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year for the department.
With funds now running out in October instead of December, residents argue careless spending and generous pay increases to employees can be attributed to why layoffs may occur earlier than expected.
Despite the feedback, Smith said he wants to once again ask voters to approve a levy.
“I would support asking voters to approve another permanent levy,” Smith said. “Timed levies put us in a bad situation where we train people and then they leave because we don’t have consistent funding. Timed levies are more expensive for taxpayers, so I would only support a permanent levy.”