MILTON TOWNSHIP Trustees split on need for cop levy

The levy would allow police to provide 24-hour protection to the community, according to the chief.
LAKE MILTON -- Loy Metzler's argument for opposing the 2-mill police levy that will appear on the May ballot in Milton Township almost sounds like the pitch in a cell-phone commercial.
Why pay more, when you can get the same coverage with less?
Metzler, a Milton Township trustee, said he thinks the number of police officers in the township can be reduced without affecting protection for the community. The Mahoning County Sheriff's Department should be able to protect the township if the force is cut, he said.
Metzler argued that if the force is cut, the township won't need the continuing levy, which would produce about $99,540 each year. The police department has a 2002 budget of about $157,000.
"We go to every entity in the county [for help]; we go to the clerk, we go to the commissioners, we go to the engineer," he said. "Why not" the sheriff?
Vote: Metzler was the lone dissenter Tuesday in a 2-1 vote to place the levy on the ballot. Trustee Al Baker, who supports the levy, said he thinks the police department does a good job and should receive the money. He noted that the police department solves 98 percent of its cases.
"We have a wonderful, wonderful -- I don't know if that expresses it -- police department," he said. "Our community is, in my opinion, about as safe as a community can be. It's all because of the police department."
Trustee Frank Tomaino, who also voted to put the levy on the ballot, could not be reached for comment.
The police department employs two full-time officers as well as 10 part-time officers who work about 24 hours each week. Police Chief William Moretz wouldn't say what hours the officers work, but he noted that the department does not provide 24-hour-a-day protection for the community.
Sheriff's deputies respond to calls in the township when the police are not working. Deputies also assist police on some cases.
Uses for money: Moretz said if the levy passes, he would be able to increase the hours of the part-time officers to about 30 a week so the department can provide all-day protection. He added that he thinks the additional protection will be needed if the township experiences a population boom.
That boom could come when the county sanitary engineer moves ahead with plans to extend water and sewer lines into the township, Moretz said.
"We want to be prepared; we want the people to be prepared," he said. "As soon as water and sewer are down here, we're going to boom."
Money from the levy also would replace a township cruiser and other equipment, Moretz said.
He added that although he thinks the sheriff's office does a good job protecting the community, he is not sure deputies will be able to provide adequate protection for the township in the future.
Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Budd, meanwhile, said he is confident the county department can protect Milton Township residents. He noted that about four or five cruisers are always patrolling the western side of the county, and that deputies receive about six reports from Milton Township each week.
State law requires deputies to patrol the unincorporated areas of the county. Budd said he did not have an opinion on the levy.

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