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Hubbard Township officials await performance audit

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP — Township trustees are hoping a performance audit being done by the state — at no cost to the township — will help provide needed guidance on what direction to take with the police department.

Trustee Chairman Tom Jacobs told more than 40 people Monday, including many with the Friends of the Hubbard Township Police Department, that the performance audit possibly could be completed and sent to trustees by March. The Ohio State Auditor’s Office reports that it more likely will be by then end of June.

He said the audit may indicate what is the best way to keep the township police department in place, or it might recommend having the township use other police protection, such as the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department.

The trustees on Monday approved moving $60,000 from the general fund to cover police costs and payroll as the police fund has a $34,000 balance. Trustees have been covering police costs on a month-by-month basis.

Resident Bill Coletta of the Friends group said the situation is very stressful for the nine police officers who are wondering if they will have a job or be laid off, and who want to know what the status of the police department is.

“It is hard for them to go to work and concentrate and function if you may not have a paycheck this year. They need some kind of answer for what the future is for them is. This is people’s lives,” Coletta said.

Trustees have been negotiating with the police officers on their next contract for several months.

Jacobs, who wants to keep the police department, said the financial situation for the police is not good.

He said he hopes the performance audit, which will provide an in-depth study and demographics of the police department, will be in hand by early March.

“That audit will give us a good picture of where we are standing, what they recommend we do and what course of action we should take,” Jacobs said.

The audit is being done at no cost to the township due to its limited finances.

Resident Don Newell of the Friends group said the committee, trustees and city officials should all get together to figure out solutions and where to find money for the department.

“Everywhere I go people tell me they want to keep the police department,” he said.

Jacobs, who has attended two Friends meetings, said trustees are reviewing the residents’ suggestions.

“If we did not care about the township police department, the sheriff’s department would have already been here,” Jacobs said.

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Trustee Fred Hanley said they have spoken to legal counsel who said the township may have a hard time borrowing money if it has no way to pay it back.

“We will wait for the performance audit to see what is a viable option,” Trustee Rick Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the township does not want to be in fiscal emergency and the state will provide recommendations in the audit on how to avoid that.

Newell said the nine officers do not know what to do, or if they should buy anything.

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