By Amanda Ensinger
Voters have once again rejected a police levy.
According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, the Franklin Township Police levy failed with 53 percent, or 378 voters opposing the levy and 47 percent, or 329 voting in favor of the levy.
The township asked voters to approve 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 an additional 3-mills.
In the spring of 2021, the police department asked a 7.37-mill permanent levy, but voters rejected that.
“This is the third time the levy has failed,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Byron Smith. “Cuts will be imminent to our department unless we receive another funding source. 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.”
Smith said the current five-year timed levy doesn’t expire until December 2022, so the trustees may opt to keep all the township police officers until the funds are no longer available. Currently, the township has 10 full-time and three part-time officers.
The department is operating 24 hours a day when there is adequate staffing. They also are proactively patrolling neighborhoods when they can and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls, when possible.
To stay afloat, the department has not been filling open positions. Smith said previously the department has up to 13 full-time officers and six part-time officers.
The department has two other permanent levies it collects from township taxpayers. Those two levies bring in approximately $700,000 a year for the department.
Smith said he would be in favor of putting another levy on ballot.
“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.”