Edon Looking At Police Cuts To Free Up Budget

A proposal to cut the village’s part-time police officers to save $20,000 for the general fund will be discussed at a special meeting March 1 in Edon.

Council is looking at the budget with a keen eye and the police fund is the only area where money could be found, Council President Lee Lawrence said.

The idea comes after the village released a study of similar sized Ohio communities within 60 miles of Edon. The study looked at villages with a population of 500 to 1,400; the number of households, median age, percentage under 18 and over 65, a public school, the towns’ general funds (minus the utility or enterprise funds); the police budget and the ratio of full- and part-time officers.

“We are still spending more than a majority are,” Lawrence said. “We looked at different ways to cut and we looked at Tom and Scott being here, we didn’t want to lose them. They are both residents and such.”

Council member Dick Chapin questioned if the cut would leave the police department exposed to deterioration of the cars and equipment.

The department is in good shape, and is a nice feature for new comers. The chief has a schedule in place for replacing vehicles, he said.

“You don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot,” Chapin said.

Some didn’t agree with Chapin about what a police department does in terms of attracting growth.

“Let’s not make a mistake, our police department does not bring people to town,” Chip Hulbert said. “That’s not what our police department is set up to do; that’s not what they do.”

“People come to our town for safety,” Chapin responded.

“No they don’t come for safety,” Hulbert said. “They come to town for our parks, which we haven’t update anything on in years.”

From his perspective, the town has hurt itself by not performing basic maintenance on the tennis courts and basketball courts. These are features that towns like Montpelier have put money into, Hulbert said.

“That park brings people to town,” Hulbert said. “And when those people come to town, they may spend money at other businesses in town.”

Some of the towns surveyed put police levies on the ballot, Mayor Duane Thiel said.

“That’s an option,” Thiel said.

The general fund supports the waste water, streets, lands and buildings and parks, Lawrence said. Waterlines and sewers are funded by enterprise funds, he said.

The village has $260,000 left over in the sewer fund, so a half-million dollar project could wipe that out, Lawrence said.

“We are trying to look at our general fund, and try to free up our money a little bit,” Lawrence said.

Thiel said it is time for the council to stop running Edon like a “one-horse town.” The village spends a lot of money when a water line breaks and crews spend a lot of time “dinking around.”

An outside company was brought it and solved the problem, he said.

“Down the road we will have to get with the times. We can’t afford to keep hiring somebody to do it for us all the time,” Thiel said. “If we are going to spend the money to hire, it’s better to buy equipment that will do it. But it takes money to buy.”

Police Chief Tom Szymczak offered to meet with the village’s finance and safety committees to discuss the matter rather than having council argue all night.

”We all have concerns,” he said.

The chief said he glanced at the survey which did not mention what services the various communities offered. His department has been able to cut spending by $32,000 over the past four years.

A levy is not realistic, council agreed, and so the special meeting was called. It begins at 5 p.m. March 1.

Thiel mentioned a proclamation from Northwest State Community College about February 2017 being Career and Technical Education month.

Szymczak gave his report. He’s been touring the schools in the county to get familiar with the schools in case of an incident.

The village’s Public Works committee scheduled a special meeting at noon Feb. 27 with Poggemeyer about a new water study required by the EPA, but will meet with Denny Bell to find out what he could do it for.

Republic Waste has called about doing a spring trash pickup. Staff will pick a date and put notices on utility bills.

Staff is talking to WEDCO to get someone in the vacant factory.

Family Dollar has called and the company is anxious to get started on the new store planned for the village. The company wants to know as soon as the ground is ready, Mayor Duane Thiel said.

“They want to get the building started,” Thiel said.

The Edon Chamber of Commerce is selling banners for light poles to promote local businesses. The chamber has received permission from Toledo Edison to attach the banners.

The chamber has eyed 30 poles, but any pole that will have a banner needs to be marked.

If any business wants a banner, they pay for it and the chamber puts the banner up.

The village is considering buying a banner and having it placed in front of the office, Fiscal Officer Heidi Bidwell said. The banner and bracketing costs $200.

Some poles have brackets from previous banners, but the chamber will go with new equipment.

The council failed to pass Ordinance 02-17 which would give employees a 3 percent raise, as an emergency after the vote to suspend the rules was deadlocked at 3 votes apiece.

In this instance, the mayor could not cast the deciding vote.

Dissenters to suspending the rules were Andrew Ledyard, Mike Liriot and Chip Hulbert.

So council approved the first reading 4-2. Ledyard and Hulbert again dissented.

The ordinance covers five employees including the village maintenance worker Dan Ankey ($15.96 per hours for up to 40 hours); Patrolman Donald S. Wilson ($715.75 per week); Bidwell ($772.50 per week); Part-time police officers ($12.28 after a year of service; $11.28 per hour for less than a year) and the police chief ($958.65 per week.)

The council received copies of the new employee handbook.

The council approved the first reading of Ordinance 03-17 which allows a $1 per hour raise for employees who gain certifications or licenses in their fields. The ordinance mostly covers the water and sewer departments.

For licenses such as a mosquito license, the village pays $50 for the first test. If he fails, he would have to pay for any future retests.

James Pruitt may be reached at publisher@thevillagereporter.com

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