By Amanda Ensinger
Franklin Township trustee Ralph Horn believes that police officers should receive a pay increase in 2017. At a recent board meeting, the other two trustees, John Fleshman and Don Cook said the first priority must be getting enough officers on the streets.
“Our focus needs to be having enough officers to cover three shifts,” Cook said. “We need to get to full staff again. That should be a our number one priority.”
Cook also said the police department has not gone as long as other departments without a pay raise.
“The fire department hasn’t had a raise in eight years,” Cook said. “The police department has only gone one year without a raise.”
The trustees have asked the auditor to research mileage numbers for a proposed levy that would generate $400,000, $500,000 or $600,000 a year for the police department. Officials said they need the levy because the department only operates two shifts and cannot provide adequate coverage to the township.
When the police department is off duty, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office provides coverage to the area. However, this coverage includes only responding to high priority emergency calls.
Burglaries, thefts and other non-emergency situations are not responded to until a township officer is on duty.
“No decision has been made if we will be pursuing a levy,” Horn said. “For me, personally, I need to look at all the information before I can vote one way or another.”
Horn said he still thinks the police officers needs a pay raise, but agrees with Cook that having adequate coverage is the top priority.
“Pay increases would be nice if the money is there,” Horn said. “However, they are down employees and that has to take precedent.”
The trustees will decide by the end of January if the they will place a levy on the May ballot and how much it will ask.
“We have to make a decision by the first part of February to meet the deadlines to add this to the May ballot,” Cook said.
In the meantime, Horn said he will be studying the police budget to determine if this the best course of action for the township.
“I’m still on the fence, so I will be examining everything to ensure I make the right decision for the residents of Franklin Township,” Horn said. “We just asked residents to approve a fire levy, so I want to make sure this is the right thing for the community.”