BAZETTA Budget worries chief

The police chief says he will ask the sheriff's department to help provide protection.
BAZETTA -- Summertime heat is not here yet, but Police Chief Robert Jacola is already sweating.
Jacola says the warm weather months mean more drivers on township roads. He is concerned about providing adequate police protection to the community.
"I don't want to sound like a broken record, but our levy didn't pass and I don't have the money to pay for overtime," Jacola said. "I'm told that an estimated 1.4 million people will visit Mosquito Lake this summer, which means those drivers will be on our roads on their way to the lake, and I just don't know what we can do to make sure our community is safe for everyone."
The police department has six full-time officers plus the chief. In past years, Jacola said he would have at least one officer work overtime each shift to make sure there were two or three officers on the roads.
The chief noted that since the voters rejected a 1.8-mill additional levy in May there is not enough money to pay the overtime bill.
"We needed the extra $257,000 a year the levy would have brought in to help cover the cost increases we have had with wage increases, health insurance costs and gasoline costs," Jacola continued.
He said other summer programs, such as having an officer patrol neighborhood garage sales, also will be cut.
Layoffs: The summer months are not his only concern, however. By September, the department will have to lay off two full-time officers.
"With the layoffs, I will not be able to cover three shifts," Jacola explained. "At that point, I am going to have to ask the Trumbull County Sheriff's Department for additional help."
Sheriff Thomas Altiere says he wants to help but he doesn't know how much assistance he can offer.
"It's going to be tight," Altiere said. "Right now we are providing protection for most of the northern Trumbull County townships that don't have their own police protection, so I'm not sure how many deputies we could free up to patrol Bazetta."
Studying options: Township Trustee Bill Glancy said he doesn't like the situation the township is in, but he isn't sure what can be done.
"I don't know if we will put on another levy or not," Glancy said. "We are still looking at all our options. Times are bad right now. People are concerned about their jobs and senior citizens are on fixed incomes. People are voting their pocketbooks and not their hearts."
Jay Bice, a township resident, said he hopes the trustees do place another levy on the ballot for the police department.
"I am very concerned about layoffs," Bice said. "I don't think residents really realize we are in jeopardy of losing two officers . We need an additional levy to keep everyone working and to keep our township safe."

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