Friday, October 28, 2016
By Amanda Tonoli
New Middletown Village Council members are asking voters to support a 2-mill police levy Nov. 8.
The five-year levy would generate about $50,000 per year and $250,000 over the life of the levy and cost the average homeowner about $70 annually.
The department currently operates on three property levies that generate about $245,000 annually. Department expenses are about $360,000 per year, however, leaving the department’s budget reliant on the general fund for the remaining $115,000.
Cuts to local government funds are disabling the general fund’s flexibility to provide money to the department, making the levy necessary for the department to continue providing the same level of service, said Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio.
“Should the levy not pass, then the police department would have to look at restructuring schedules and more than likely not be able to provide the 24/7 coverage, leaving open shifts on midnight,” he said.
The department consists of four full-time and five part-time officers with one officer on duty per shift. Their wages range from $12 to $16 per hour with the average officer earning between $29,000 to $33,000 per year.
D’Egidio said wages and hospitalization cost the most when it comes to the budget, with wages that exist on the low side of the scale for Mahoning County increasing only slightly in the past few years.
Without the levy, part-time officers will face hour reductions or entire position eliminations.
D’Egidio said although the department is doing its part to deal with the decrease in revenue, “the passage of the levy is crucial to sustaining police services.”
“There is no overabundance of resources within the department and available to our community,” the chief said. “We have seen a measurable increase in heroin abuse and the associated property crimes.
“Our call volume will exceed 700 dispatched calls for service in addition to an estimated 1,200 officer-initiated activities this year,” he added.
“No new patrol units have been purchased since 2001, and we have been diligent in locating used serviceable units as a cost savings. However, the cars are regularly requiring high-dollar repairs in addition to regular maintenance,” D’Egidio said.