Three months after Springfield Township voters rejected a levy to pay for police services, trustees agreed last week to an 11-month contract with the Lucas County Sheriff's Office that will keep one deputy patrolling the township full-time.
Trustees approved the $383,167 contract, which does not include the cost of call-taking and dispatching by the sheriff's office. That costs the township an extra $3,600 a month.
Township Administrator Leslie Kohli said the township and county are
asking the Ohio Attorney General's Office for a legal opinion on whether the sheriff can charge for dispatch services.
"The question is whether or not the Lucas County sheriff can charge that additional dispatch/call-taking fee based on the fact that the county has a 911 dispatch levy," she said. "What does that levy cover? Is it just for equipment, or is it for taking a call and dispatching it?"
The debate over police services began in June when Sheriff James Telb announced the county would begin charging for patrols and dispatching in 2010. Trustees in previous years had contracted with the sheriff to keep one deputy in the township around the clock but otherwise received patrol and dispatch services at no additional cost.
Rather than pay the proposed $2.3 million a year bill to the county, Springfield Township Trustees placed a three-year, 4.5-mill levy on the Nov. 3 ballot that was intended to generate $2.9 million a year for police services. At the time, trustees Bob Bethel and Andy Glenn supported a proposal to contract with Holland police to provide coverage to the township.
At last week's trustee meeting, Mr. Bethel and Mr. Glenn discussed placing another police levy on the May 4 ballot, but the idea did not fly.
"Last time, a lot of people said they were upset because the decision was made [to contract with Holland police] before the levy was passed," Mr. Glenn said, explaining his interest in putting a levy on the ballot before trustees decide how to handle police services in 2011 and beyond.
Because Springfield Local Schools has a 3.9-mill, five-year operating levy on the May 4 ballot, Mr. Glenn said he doesn't want taxpayers to forget about the need to pay for police protection.
"We are still in a position where one way or another, we are going to have to find a funding source in Springfield Township," he said. "That needs to be on people's minds."
Still, Trustee Marylin Yoder said it would be premature to make any decisions about a new tax levy before the township's recently appointed Police Study Commission makes its recommendations.
The nine-member committee, which held its first meeting Feb. 10 and was to meet again last night, is looking at options for policing the township: starting its own department, contracting with the sheriff's office, and contracting with other local police departments.
Ms. Kohli said more than 30 people applied to serve on the Police Study Commission, which plans to spend three to four months considering options for police protection.
The committee members are Rick Bryan, Harry Dewitz, Arnold Dzienny, Ronald Leffel, Kelly Meek, Amy Knox Sanders, Jerry Sawicki, Jack Smith, and Leslie Snell.
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