NORTHFIELD CENTER — Township trustees last week approved a three-year contract with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, which trustees say will not require any new police levy being placed before voters for at least the length of the pact.
Trustees Paul Buescher and John Romanik favored the contract, while Trustee Richard Reville voted "no." Reville favored scheduling a public hearing and holding off on voting on the pact until at least the next trustees’ meeting.
"I wanted to open it up for discussion to see if we’re getting the best ... do we have proper coverage, do we have everything we need?" he told the News Leader later.
He sad the contract pays for one deputy, 24-7 and a second deputy for 40 hours during the week.
"I wanted to make sure that the residents understand what we’re spending our money on, and to understand what is the best coverage for the area. For what we’re paying for, I’m sure it’s good, but as the area grows, I’m not so sure," he added.
The contract carries a price tag of $2.62 million, a 10.82 percent increase over the expiring contract, according to Reville.
A handful of residents attending the meeting expressed their displeasure with the vote, urging the trustees to take a little more time to consider other options.
However, Buescher said four or five residents told him after the meeting that they supported the trustees’ approval of the contract.
Buescher said the increase was expected because of union- negotiated wage increases and the cost of new radio and related dispatch equipment.
"I worked with Sheriff Steve Barry and Maj. Brad Whitfield to provide us with an early contract proposal to allow us time to work out any unforeseen problems like we experienced three years ago," Buescher explained.
He noted the last contract resulted in an unexpected 34 percent increase "that forced us to put an additional 3-mill levy on the Nov. 4, 2014 ballot, which 58 percent of the voters approved."
Buescher said trustees expect a $299,651 carryover from the expiring contract into next year, "and if all goes according to plan, we should have a $217,818 carryover at the end of the new contract in 2020.
"When we formulated the 2014 levy, we planned ahead by ensuring that it would produce the necessary funds, not only for the expiring contract but for the newly proposed one. It worked out very well."
Buescher said the township neither requested nor received proposals from any other police agency.
"Judging from past contract negotiations, we knew if another agency offered a proposal, it would need at least a six-month ramp-up time to buy cruisers and hire and train personnel," he noted.
"That would have put us well into next year, and our current contract expires at the end of this year. There were no other options. This will continue the excellent service of the sheriff’s department for residents’ safety and well-being, and without any additional taxes."
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