Police levy back on the ballot in Franklin Township

By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

A local township will once again ask taxpayers to approve a levy that they say is needed to sustain the department.

At a recent meeting, the Franklin Township Trustees approved moving forward with a police levy.

The police department will ask voters to approve a 7-mill police levy. The five-year timed levy would replace an existing timed levy that is set to expire at the end of 2022, as well as add an additional 3-mills to the levy. Under the current levy, residents pay about $100 per year per every $100,000 in property value. If the new levy is approved, that amount would essentially double.

This is the second time the department has asked for a levy this year. In the spring, residents rejected a 7.37-mill permanent levy.

At the time the levy failed, Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith said the department would have to cut the third shift to operate within their means. However, at a recent meeting Smith said they are trying to do everything they can to avoid this.

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. The new levy, should the voters approve it, would generate $1.2 million for the police department.

Smith said the funds from the levy would be used for operational expenses, including paying for salary, equipment and other department needs.

The trustees were split on how much money to ask taxpayers for since the previous levy failed, and they recently asked voters for a fire levy.

Trustee Aryeh Alex said that his preference would be to ask for a renewal because it would not have a tax increase for township residents. However, Smith opposed this.

“The first option, it would be important to inform residents that if they pass it, they will lose services because there would be mandatory lay-offs,” Smith said. “My preference would be the second or third option.”

Smith added that putting a renewal of the five-year levy on the ballot would be pointless as the police department would still need to lay off officers in 2023 due to lack of funding.
Franklin Township Fiscal Officer Nick Dunn echoed this sentiment.

“In a five-year projection, the proposal shows if the levy passes by the end of 2023 there will be a shortfall of $300,000 for the police department,” Dunn said.

Some residents still are not sold on the idea of another levy, especially when a fire levy was recently passed.

“I am a huge supporter of law enforcement, but I am not in favor of another tax hike,” said David Byers, township resident. “The fire levy passed a while back and the township is still short of firefighters, and I heard the possibility of firefighters still could be laid off, so where are our tax dollars going? I understand expenses, etc. Is the money being used properly? What about our roads, all the abandoned houses and neglected properties in the township that have been there for years, even decades, and not much has been done about them. I may consider voting for a police levy in the future but not this year.”

For more information on the Franklin Township Police Department levy, visit www.franklin-township.com.

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