By Amanda Amsel
Franklin Township voters will see a police levy when they head to the polls this November.
At a recent meeting, the Franklin Township trustees approved putting a 3.92-mill levy on the November ballot. Trustees Don Cook and John Fleshman voted for the levy, while trustee Tim Guyton voted against it.
“The reason I’m voting against this is because it is a permanent levy,” Guyton said. “If you pass a permanent levy, it is forever.”
If approved, the permanent levy would generate $585,000 a year for the police department. Property owners would pay approximately $12 a month per $100,000 home.
“This levy will give us three permanent shifts,” said Police Chief Allan Wheeler.
Currently, the Franklin Township Police Department is at bare minimum staffing. Earlier this year, the township laid off four police officers because of financial issues resulting in the eight-person department being cut in half. The police department operates only one shift from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is responding to emergency township calls when the department is closed. However, the county will not respond to non-emergency calls and residents sometimes wait days to get an officer to file a police report.
The trustees who support a permanent levy said a timed levy makes no sense.
“A timed levy is for police cars and other equipment that is paid off after a certain time,” Cook said. “A permanent levy is for operating cost so we can budget for the next few years.”
Both Cook and Fleshman have accused Guyton of wanting to close the Franklin Township Police Department. Guyton has denied this.
“My concern is that Tim (Guyton) wants to do away with the police department all together and contract it out to the sheriff’s office,” Fleshman said.
At a board meeting, Guyton said the township deputies would have a job with the county if the township took that route. He also asked for township residents’ feedback about if they would like to see the township’s police services be contracted out with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.
“The board has to define what they expect from a police department,” Guyton said. “There are 17 townships in our county, seven townships have their own departments, two contract with the sheriff’s department and the other eight do not have their own, nor do they contract with the sheriff. In those cases, they receive the basic service from the sheriff.”