Township could pay more for safety services

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By Amanda Ensinger
Staff Writer

Prairie Township will see an increase in police services.

At a recent meeting, Prairie Township Administrator Rob Peters asked the board to approve the 2021 police service agreement with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

“This agreement sets the terms for the police services in the township and is valid from Jan. 1, 2021 through Dec. 31, 2021,” Peters said. “The cost for 2021 is $82,973 per month.”

The annual contract cost would not to exceed $1.02 million.

This is an increase over previous years. In 2017 the contract was $858,550, in 2018 the contract was $890,938, in 2019 the contract was $910,363, and in 2020 the contract was $971,801.

“This agreement will include two dedicated cars 24 hours a day, seven days a week and one dedicated car 16 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Major Carl Hickey with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. “Other services include access to the swat team, bomb team, bike unit, and other services of the sheriff’s office.”

The biggest reason for an increase in the contract each year can be attributed to staffing costs, rising fuel costs and inflation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The trustees decided to table the resolution for further discussion before moving forward with the renewal.

In other township news, the board approved the use of two-hour pool rentals on weekends to provide patrons and members an opportunity to have recreation swimming.

“Rental times would be Saturdays from 12:45 to 2:45 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 1:15 to 3:15 pm. .and 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.,” said Michael Pollack, director of the community center. “The charge for the rental times would be $160 for residents/members and $190 for non-residents.”

Pollack also asked the board to update its current pool policy to allow two people in the same household to use a lap lane or a deep-water lane. He said this change can now occur because of the drop in COVID-19 cases.

The board also discussed the 2021 voluntary sidewalk program.

The program, which has taken place for over 15 years, offers township property owners a 10-year interest free loan to repair their sidewalks. The loans are added to property taxes.
Previously the program was entirely voluntary, but in recent years the township added a component to the program where they make residents replace sidewalks that are dangerous. Also, residents can report sidewalks that need to be repaired.

A few other revisions to the program in recent years include that there is a minimum cost of $450 to repair any sidewalk and residents need to replace more than one slab of a sidewalk.

However, last year the program was made all voluntary as a result of the financial situation many Americans are facing.

“We didn’t want to make someone’s financial situation harder,” Peters said. “Unless their sidewalk was very dangerous and really needed replaced, we made it voluntary.”

Peters said the board agreed to make the program voluntary this year again because of the financial impact COVID-19 has continued to have on many residents.

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