By Amanda Amsel
Franklin Township residents have overwhelmingly rejected the proposed 3.91-mil permanent police levy.
With 875 votes against and 619 for according to the Franklin County Board of Elections, residents let township officials know they do not want to pay any additional taxes.
“In the end this was up to the residents,” said Franklin Township Police Chief Allan Wheeler. “We gave them all the information they could possible need and they told us they don’t want to pay any additional taxes.”
The proposed levy would have generated $585,000 a year for the police department and cost taxpayers $137.20 a year per $100,000 home.
The funds from the levy were going to be used toward staffing for the police department. Wheeler said the new revenue would have allowed them to bring their department back to 11 full-time officers and they would have been able to patrol the community 24 hours a day seven days a week. Currently, the township operates two shifts seven days a week, one shift works 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. and the other shift works 2 to 10 p.m.
A committee of residents dedicated to passing the levy held several public meetings prior to Election Day and received overwhelming support for the levy; however this did not translate to support at the polls.
“We did the best we could to stress the importance of this levy passing to the residents of Franklin Township,” Wheeler said. “It is what it is, I guess.”
The police levy did not have the support of all township officials.
Trustee Tim Guyton voted against putting the levy on the November ballot, stating that he opposed a permanent levy because it puts an unfair burden on future generations.
A few weeks prior to the election, Guyton released a letter to township residents stating why he was opposed to the levy. The reasons cited include the fact that the levy was permanent and that the township may not need its own police department and could contract with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Guyton said he released the letter because he wanted his views to be public.
In the end, according to Wheeler, the failure of this levy would most likely result in staffing cuts and the department returning to covering one shift and the sheriff’s department responding to only emergency calls when the township’s police department is closed.
“We will have to continue to operate with the money we have, but I don’t know how we will do that,” Wheeler said. “In the end, the residents of this township will suffer the most; they will have slower response times, calls will be backed up and we will have a hard time retaining officers.”