The police union and township officials are locked in a debate over the legality of a $74,000 transfer trustees approved in March from the police department to the general fund.
The township’s administration claims that over an eight-year period, the general fund lent the police and fire departments $275,000 to subsidize the local 911 dispatch center. Administrators claim the police department still owed the general fund $74,000.
Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Atty. Kevin Powers said even if the township did subsidize the cost of 911, audit rules prohibit the township from going back into previous years and reimbursing the general fund, according to a public-record request Powers filed with the administration March 5.
Then in a April 3 letter, Powers wrote that the township actually owed the police department money.
“It is our contention that the police fund has over- reimbursed the general fund by $80,000 as of the end of 2010,” he wrote.
In all, Powers claimed, the general fund should reimburse the police department $154,000, for the $80,000 in 2010 and the $74,000 transferred on March 1.
“I think it’s hypocritical when we give them our money and the fire department gives them theirs and suddenly it’s their money,” said township Administrator Pat Ungaro. “We took that money back, and now they’re fighting that.”
Attempts at contacting the local OPBA President, Liberty patrolman Robert Altier, were unsuccessful.
Before Liberty residents voted into effect the current 911 levy in 2008, the administration would bill both the fire and police departments for the local dispatch center. But each year, both departments fell short, leaving the general fund to subsidize the difference, Ungaro said.
He said without the general fund doing so, it would have meant policemen’s jobs in layoffs to free up money for the 911 center.
“We’re still waiting on and working with the auditors to work toward some conclusion [of the dispute with the OPBA],” said Mark Finamore, the township’s legal counsel.
Until then, the dispute remains unsolved heading into Monday’s trustee meeting where the trustees will vote on two measures that will affirm their commitment to sending local 911 dispatching to the Trumbull County 911 Center. The ending of the five-year, 1.25-mill levy that funds most of the local 911 center and the placement of a 0.45-mill levy on the November ballot that will pay for the yearly $84,735 fee required from the county 911 center both will be on the agenda.