The village of Edon will be losing its part-time police officers as the Council decided capital improvements is a higher priority.
The Council met in special session March 1 to discuss the proposed budget with the cuts to the police department and more money for capital improvements. The council approved the revised appropriations.
The decision means the Police Department will lose all its part-time officers and some $5,000 for operational expenses for an overall $20,000 cut, Mayor Duane Thiel said. Those funds will be put back in the general fund.
“I am not sure how it is going to pan out,” Thiel said.
The village’s 1.5 percent income tax generates $298,000 annually and that is the general fund, Thiel said. Last year, the village devoted 10 percent ($29,800) to capital improvements, he said;
This year the plan is to double that amount to $59,600 so the village can boost its reserves to match with money received via grants for street work, Thiel said. The village is also going to need some new pieces of equipment so it must start putting aside money now, he said.
A leading reason for cutting the police department is that there is little need for such protection anymore in the village, Thiel said. The village has few businesses open anymore and the loss of a factory took 250 people a day from the traffic flow, he said.
So when Police Chief Tom Szymczak asked for the part-timers to continue at the meeting, no motions to that effect were made, Thiel said.
“The chief is not pleased,” Thiel said. “I told him this had nothing to do with the incident.”
As a result, the chief and the other full-time officer will their schedules and be on call otherwise, Thiel said.
The council’s decision is typical of towns the size of Edon, Thiel said. Costs for police coverage are rising out of reach for most small towns, he said.
“Towns can’t afford to pay for police protection when there is nothing to protect,” Thiel said.
A survey the village conducted of small communities of similar size with a school in its borders showed Edon was in the upper 10 percent of the cost side, which gave council an idea of how out of sorts the budget was, Thiel said.
“It’s a Catch-22, you have to have it, but you can’t afford it,” Thiel said of police protection. “We have to put it back into perspective of what the town can afford.”
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org