WJ council says no to new police vehicle


(Posted March 9, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

The West Jefferson Police Department won’t be getting a new cruiser any time soon, even though the one they want to replace has over 100,000 miles on it.

On March 7, village council members voted against purchasing a 2016 Ford Explorer that was to cost up to $37,942.

The resolution calling for the purchase first came before council on Feb. 16, along with companion legislation to transfer money from the general fund to pay for it. Council member Jen Warner noted that the cruiser purchase was not in the 2016 budget.

Historically, the village has purchased a new cruiser each year. Money for a new cruiser was removed from the 2016 budget, however, so that the spending plan could be balanced.

“It should have been brought up before balancing the budget,” Warner said.

Mayor Ray Martin tried to make his case for a new cruiser, saying the one to be replaced has 120,000 miles on it.

“That’s a lot of miles,” he said.

Trying to further his case, he cited a recent chase in the Cleveland suburb of Elyria where all three cruisers in a chase broke down. All had over 100,000 miles on them, he said.

Council member Stanley Herman, drawing on his experience as manager of a fleet of vehicles, said high-mileage vehicles are prone to breakdown.

“Are we going to spend a lot of money to repair or rely on an idle car?” he asked. “We’re trying to protect the public. We should be ready.”

Council President Steve Johnston said one cruiser now sits idle during the night shift and some-times two cars are idled.

The cruiser purchase was defeated in a 4-3 vote, with Warner, Johnston, Randy Otis and Lori Cafagno casting the “no” votes.


Council voted to participate in the Ohio Treasurer’s www.Ohiocheckbook.com program where the village’s financial figures for the past three years will be online for the public to see.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Cafagno said.

Lauren Bowen of the state treasurer’s office demonstrated the program at the council meeting. She used Plain City’s page on the website as an example.

Bowen, Johnston, and West Jefferson Finance Director Debbie DiLeo confirmed that no personal information will be posted.

“No names will be used on tax refunds,” they said.

Building and zoning fees

Council held a public hearing during which Arnie Booth, zoning and code enforcement officer, explained proposed changes to residential and commercial building fees.

New is an application fee of $40. In the past, Booth said, many individuals have come in and asked a variety of questions but never followed through on their plans.

“These types of people take up the time of our employees and never apply for permits,” he said. “This (application fee) would compensate them for their time.”

Also new is a roofing permit fee for $50 and a yearly registration fee of $25 for all contractors who work in the village.

Residential fees have been set by ordinance but would now go into a zoning book where they belong, Booth said.

Doug Eakins, the longest serving member on council, said residential fees were handled by ordinance because it was easy to make changes when necessary.

No one showed up for the hearing. The proposal will now go to council at its March 21 meeting for a first reading. It will be handled as an ordinance, which means at least two readings are required before passage.


In other business, council:

  • accepted the bid of Beheler Excavating for $408,182 for the budgeted Madison Drive North waterline replacement project.
  • revived a resolution to vacate the alley between Washington and Jackson streets and gave it unanimous approval.
  • authorized the purchase of traffic signal battery backup systems from Security Fence Group for $15,480.
  • authorized the purchase of skateboard park equipment from Service Supply Limited in an amount not to exceed $52,540. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is supplying 80 percent of the funds for the project. Teenager Andrew Weber suggested the skateboard park idea about a year ago.
  • adopted a recommendation from the Tax Incentive Review Council to continue the agreement with Shui-Nan and Chiou, Jeu, Chuang Trust and Duke Realty Ohio.
  • adopted a recommendation from the Tax Incentive Review Council to continue the agreement with WJFX Holdings, LLC/FedEx Freight, FedEx Freight System, and Target Corp. The agreement was modified to allow FedEx Freight to be considered a job creator rather than a job retainer.

The next West Jefferson council meeting will take place at 7 p.m. March 21 on the second floor of village hall on Main Street.

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