Officials devise objectives for next few years
By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Township officials have come up with a strategic plan to expand police, fire and administrative services to carry the township through the next two or three years.
Now comes the hard part -- finalizing the plan and putting the funding in place.
Elected officials and department heads spent more than nine hours Friday generating ideas and putting together a wish list of needs and wants that totaled several million dollars.
Items from the list deemed most crucial to township operations will be put in place over the next two years.
"We are trying to prioritize our overall budget," said William Leicht, township clerk. "By getting each department in here to listen, and share ideas and needs, we can prioritize these things on a township level and control the budget."
Township officials took the same approach in 2000. Leicht said at that time 11 major objectives were included in the plan. All of those objectives, he said, have been completed with the exception of two -- installing a fireproof vault in the zoning and clerk's offices. Those issues will be addressed over the next two years.
15 new positions
The plan also will include nine additional major objectives to be completed over the next 24 months. There will be 15 new positions created by the time the plan is completed.
Administrator Curt Seditz will be getting an assistant/human resources person at a cost estimated to be about $75,000 including pay and benefits. Leicht said the township has grown to a point where such a position is necessary.
A deputy fire chief, fire prevention officer and six additional firefighters also will be brought on board at an estimated cost of more than $400,000. The fire department also will see other changes that already have been budgeted, but not included, in the strategic plan.
Police Chief Jeffrey Patterson will be getting five new tactical officers to assist in the newly implemented crime analysis program. He said the program does "a fine job of determining where crime will likely happen," but additional officers are needed to be in those locations. The estimated cost is about $300,000.
Taking cruisers home
The police department also will work on allowing officers to take cars home and leave them parked in driveways as a crime deterrent in some neighborhoods. Patterson said that will require 20 additional cars.
Leicht said the department will no longer sell old cruisers, but instead use those as take-home cars.
The township will hire an information technology person to handle all township information systems. Leicht said each township department is using various technology and software that must be maintained.
There will be an increase in repair and maintenance work by the road department. The township also hopes to create a council of governments with other areas to share services and cut down overlap and expenses.
Leicht said officials wanted to get a plan in place before trustees start working on the budget in May and June. Over the next several months, officials will work on funding the plan.