NEW MADISON – A discussion continued about law enforcement options at the Monday, March 6, Village of New Madison Council Meeting.
At the last meeting, council approved a new proposal from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office offering about $22,900 for the rest of the year. This includes 40 hours a month, plus a vehicle. It is a month-to-month contract. It fits into their existing Police Levy of about $27,000.
Former New Madison Mayor Steve Eadler’s widow, Lisa, spoke again on behalf of reinstating a police department.
“I want to commend the Sheriff’s Department’s proposal,” she said. “I think it is honorable that they are allowing a month-by-month proposal. Also, I do understand taking bids for the Charger in order to make a payment. However, I still believe the council should not make any quick decisions to sell the other equipment and the Cruiser, giving the council an opportunity to look at different options.
“I heard those in favor of the Police Department and I heard those opposed,” Eadler added. “I believe a special meeting is needed to discuss options with the village residents and an opportunity given to the residents to decide, by voting on additional levy, to support the police department.”
Eadler said she calculated the cost for a total on passing a 2 mill levy, which would be 40 cents a day. She also said she wanted to hear more about the plan Councilwoman Hill had proposed.
Councilwoman Hill reminded people that the Village agreed to the Sheriff’s contract as month-to-month.
“Granted it (police protection) is a dead horse for March, but not for April or May,” she said.
Her proposal of $35,000 was for two officers at $12.50 per hour, at 20 hours for each officer for a total of 40 hours, including Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), medical and tax collection, and a training estimate. Councilwoman Nancy Vietor also came up with a plan, presuming the village did not get a levy, giving 56 hours a week of police protection for about $23,000 plus some additional expenses.
A resident asked Councilwoman Vietor what goes on in town that requires 56 hours a week of police protection.
“Two things happened at my residence alone last week,” Councilwoman Vietor said. “My husband’s truck got egged and someone tried to steal our grill.”
“Did the Sheriff come?” the resident asked.
“We didn’t call,” Councilwoman Vietor replied.
Mayor Lisa Garland said she is not opposed to any ideas.
“But one thing we all have to keep in mind is not one penny can come from the General Fund to support that because there is no money in it,” she said. “We are at negative $71,000 in the General Fund.”
“The reason the general fund went down is due to the Permissive Motor Vehicle License Tax was being deposited into the General Fund,” Fiscal Officer Roberta Hocker said. “She (state auditor) asked me to move that to the 2101 Fund, which is the Permissive Motor Vehicle License Tax Fund to get those corrected, so I did.”
So far, adjustments have been made to the 2013-14 audit and continue. Anna Mary Thomas, with the State Auditor’s Office is assisting the village with Fiscal Officer Roberta Hocker, through a monitoring program to clean up past audits. The free monitoring began March 1, and will continue for at least two years, Fiscal Officer Hocker said. So far, adjustments have been made to the 2013-14 audit and continue.
“We can’t tell the Sheriff’s Office we want them, a month later we don’t want them and three months later, we want them back,” Council President Jeremy Doolin said.
One resident asked what the council found out about the number of incidents that the Sheriff’s Office covered in the amount of hours they had been in town since the beginning of the year.
“I still haven’t gotten the information – I have been busy this week and haven’t had time to call them, Council President Doolin said.
“I will call in the morning,” Mayor Lisa Garland said.
“I am wondering if it is worth it to pay the Sheriff’s Department to come to town or not,” the resident said.
“We are going to get the same coverage, but guaranteed those hours,” Councilwoman Monyca Schlechty said.
“That is street time people, that is them hitting the pavement,” a resident said.
In other news, Councilwoman Patty Jackson asked Former Police Sgt. Mike Lewis why he was collecting unemployment from the village.
“How can you get it and the rest of them (former police officers) don’t?” she asked.
“The others have jobs as far as I know,” Lewis said.