Police chief says failure of levy will impact service

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Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith discussed the failure of the police levy at a recent board meeting. The permanent levy failed with 66.43 percent voting against it.

“We received 104 votes in favor of the levy and 186 votes against,” Smith said. “As a result, the police department will need to consolidate and conserve resources.”

If the levy had passed, Smith said he was going to ask permission to start the hiring process, but that will not be the case.

“In the next few weeks, the police department will need to cut out part of the third shift; probably from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.,” he said. “We are going to try to reimagine the police department in order to give the voters what they ask for.”

Smith said that depending on a future levy outcome, the department may make more cuts down the road.

“Franklin Township tried to educate the public as much as possible,” said John Fleshman, township trustee.

The township was asking residents to approve a 7.37-mill permanent levy for the police department. This would have cost residents $737 a year per $100,000 home valuation.

“It would have cost roughly an extra $13 per $100,000 of value, once the timed levy would have been rescinded,” said Mark Potts, township administrator.

The levy would have replaced a five-year timed levy the township current has that is set to expire at the end of 2022, said Smith.

The board debated whether to ask for a permanent or timed levy and when to ask taxpayers for this. In November 2020, the township received approval from taxpayers for a 5.89-mill replacement fire levy, so there were concerns about asking voters for back-to-back levies. This is the second levy the township asked for in a two-year period.

Smith said he wanted to present the levy to voters sooner, rather than later, in case it failed. This gives the department several more times to present the levy before it expires.
Fleshman said a permanent levy would have helped the township plan more long term for the police department and not have to go back to the voters every four years for a renewal.

The department also has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those two levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year for the department.

The funds from the levy would have been used for operational expenses, including paying for salary, equipment and other department needs.

“We need to listen to what our residents are telling us,” Fleshman said. “If they keep rejecting permanent levies and are more comfortable with timed levies, we need to respect that.”

However, Smith said if they do a renewal with no increase, whatever cuts they make now will be permanent.

“Due to the amount of crime, it is a hazard to have officers out by themselves, so we need to think about the officers’ safety,” Smith said. “Voters have already spoken so now we need to be concerned about the safety of the officers. As a result of this levy failing, there will be cuts in services.”

Smith said he would like to put a levy back on the ballot in November.

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