BRADFORD – The Village of Bradford met in an emergency session Wednesday to discuss the renewal of their law enforcement contract with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
Due to budget restraints, the village is no longer able to afford their current contract and have sent a new contract to MCSO for approximately half the hours of service used since the dissolution of the Bradford Police Department in September 2007, said Brenda Selanders, clerk/treasurer for the village.
The originally proposed contract for 2014 from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office included a 2 percent increase in the cost to provide 17 hours of service per day, 365 days per year.
In 2013 the village paid $153,183.12, Selanders said, with an additional fuel allowance of $10,000 per year. The actual cost to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office is closer to $243,000 a year for the services, technology and equipment currently being provided to the village, stated Chief Deputy Dave Duchak, which includes the pay and benefits for the deputies patrolling the area.
The 2014 contract price increased to $156,246.84 with a fuel allowance of $15,000. According to Selanders, those numbers “just wouldn’t work” with the village’s budget due to cuts from the state.
“We knew going into this year that we would potentially have problems,” Selanders commented. “We tried to plan for that by increasing the village’s income tax from 1 percent to 1.5 percent, which is pretty average for a municipality, but the residents just wouldn’t pass it. It would be beneficial to the village to have that extra half percent coming to Bradford instead of having it go elsewhere, which is essentially what’s happening.”
Selanders explained that Bradford residents who live in the village but work elsewhere would not necessarily notice any changes, though residents who live and work in the village, or outside of a municipality, would receive a half percent increase, if the council decides to pursue the increase, and the residents pass the increase. At this time, Selanders said she had no indication of the council’s plans, however.
“Local government funding is down, so it’s not just us that’s feeling the crunch – everyone is having the same problem,” Selanders commented. She also noted that the only reason Bradford was able to keep their full contract, which is renewed annually, with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office is because of the sale of land for the Dollar General.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office was unable to offer Bradford a reduced price for the same number of hours, as they have also experienced budget cuts, so the village was faced with either having no police coverage other than what the sheriff’s department could offer in terms of available deputies, or cut the contract in half, and have a deputy on patrol for 8.5 hours per day, 365 days per year, Selanders noted.
With their previous contracts, Miami County’s Sheriff Cox had offered Bradford all of the services of the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, and according to Duchak, those services will still be offered, despite the lowered hours of service.
“I get what they’re going through with the budget, the state’s cutting local budgets for counties – we’ve all been greatly impacted. They just keep cutting and cutting,” Duchak commented. “They [Bradford] just don’t have the income tax base. It’s unfortunate that the state is cutting their tax base, but we’ll continue to give them the best service we can.”
That will include 8.5 hours of a deputy on patrol, which Duchak said includes both rookie and veteran deputies, all of whom are “highly trained, or the sheriff wouldn’t have them out there.” They will also have the beat cars on the western side of the county drive through during times when an officer is not on patrol in Bradford, Duchak said.
“We’re privileged to police the residents in Bradford; I know it was a big change, but I think it’s gone well,” Duchak said. “We will continue to provide the best service we can, but there will be less visibility and coverage in town…we’re going to do what we can to help them.”
If violent or in-progress crimes occur while there isn’t deputy coverage in Bradford, Duchak said his deputies would still be responding to those calls. Other calls, for ordinance violations or criminal mischief, etc., would be “put on a back burner” until the patrol officer for Bradford came on duty. Currently, Duchak said his officers, per the village government, have been instructed to take ordinance violations on a complaint-by-complaint basis, rather than enforcing them aggressively, and they will continue that trend based on what the village officials request.
“According to the instructions we were given, they [Bradford] didn’t want the deputies to enforce aggressively – unless there was a complaint. We told them we’d enforce as aggressively or leniently as Bradford wanted,” Duchak noted. “…As soon as we were alerted that downtown businesses were having problems with apartment-dwellers taking parking spots – our guys started enforcing that. If we’re not told that there are issues, then we won’t know about them.”
The new law enforcement contract is set to begin March 1, Selanders commented, so long as the MCSO accepts the terms. Until that time, Bradford is on a month-to-month basis with the sheriff’s office, she said.