By Amanda Ensinger
The county sheriff will continue to provide police protection for a local township after leadership agreed to a pay increase for the services in 2019.
At a recent Prairie Township meeting, the board approved the 2019 Police Service Agreement with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. The agreement, which spans from Jan. 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019, would pay the county $906,504 a year.
“In 2018 we paid $888,471, so this will be a 2 percent increase,” said Rob Peters, administrator for Prairie Township. “In the past six years the contract has increased by 13.4 percent.”
Last year, the township paid the sheriff’s department $74,039 a month. With this new contract, the township will pay the 75,542 per month. The new contract also will have a not to exceed amount of $936,000, factoring in overtime for deputies when needed.
In 2018, the contract increased by 4 percent compared to 2017. In 2017, the township paid $853,471 a year. According to township officials, the reason for the increases is related to wages, benefits and equipment needs.
The township’s service with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office includes two cars on township streets. One of these cars patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The other car patrols 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The county also provides backup as needed, as well as has other cars in the area when available.
The township is required to have police service or contract service with law enforcement to be a limited home rule government.
After unanimously agreeing to the contract, the trustees moved on and discussed the upcoming bicentennial of the township.
“Besides this important anniversary, this also will be the 75th anniversary of the fire department,” Peters said. “I wanted to start the conversation now about how we want to celebrate these important events.”
Prairie Township trustee Cathy Schmelzer voiced her support behind creating banners that recognize these accomplishments.
“Could we do banners on Broad Street?” Schmelzer asked. “Having something public on Broad Street would definitely raise awareness and be a public way to celebrate these anniversaries.”
Fire department officials said they had been brainstorming ideas to celebrate their anniversary. Some of the ideas includes a Prairie Township Fire Department Food Truck Festival, having some type of recognition at the annual Prairie Township Fish Fry and celebrating during Fire Prevention Month in October.
“We also discussed creating a commemorative coin during Fire Prevention Month,” said Prairie Township Assistant Fire Chief Allen Scott. “We will also get with James (Gant) and talk about how we can collaborate. These are both big accomplishments that we want to promote.”
A few other ideas thrown out by leaders and residents included integrating these anniversaries into the opening of the new Galloway Road Sports Complex, creating an education resource with historical photos from the township and fire department and partnering with local schools to boost pride in the community.