By Amanda Amsel
At a recent Franklin Township board meeting, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office discussed their interest in contracting out their services with the township.
Major Carl Hickey, from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, asked the trustees what their plan was now that the proposed 3.91-mill permanent police levy failed.
“Right now all we know is that we can keep six officers on until Dec. 31,” said Don Cook, Franklin Township trustee. “We would like to keep them on after that, but the money is not available.”
In November, the trustees approved laying off two officers at the end of the year, taking the six person department down to four full-time officers, including the police chief.
Trustee Tim Guyton suggested laying off the officers sooner because the department didn’t have the funds to support the two additional officers through the end of the year.
“At the last meeting I argued we didn’t have the money to keep these two officers on any longer,” Guyton said. “Now we are weeks away from these officers being laid off and we have no plan. That doesn’t look good on Franklin Township’s part.”
Hickey said if the county were to take over the department, they would need a significant amount of notice so they can plan accordingly.
“Right now we don’t have any more information; we will know more once we get some numbers from the auditor,” said John Fleshman, Franklin Township trustee. “We have enough money to leave six officers on right now and that is what we are going to do to protect the residents of this township.”
Hickey said in the coming weeks, the sheriff’s office would put together a proposal for the trustees to consider. Cook said the proposal would be pointless.
“We have two permanent levies and only one of them allows us to contract out service,” Cook said. “According to our attorney, even with an election, we can’t change the other levy, so we don’t even have enough money to contract with the sheriff.”
According to Cook, Prairie Township pays the county approximately $65,000 a month to contract service or $780,000 a year. The one permanent levy from the township that could be used to pay for county coverage generates a little over $200,000. Cook said this is nowhere close to enough money to contract with the sheriff’s office.
“Our plan is going to either only have four officers in our police department or put another levy on the ballot,” Cook said. “If the levy had passed, we would have had more options, but it didn’t so these are our only options.”
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office plans to present their proposal to contract with the Franklin Township in the coming weeks.