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Published: 7/17/2003

Cut in deputies aims to ease debt

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

In an attempt to deal with an unanticipated debt, Springfield Township has reduced the number of Lucas County sheriff's deputies it contracts to perform police duties.

The reduction to nine deputies from 10 should save the township a little under $60,000 annually, said Bob Anderson, township administrator. The decision is one step toward dealing with a bill of nearly $200,000 the county said is owed for the service of deputies beginning in 2001.

“First, we don't think this will have any effect on daily police operations. There may be some reduced patrol time, but response to emergencies shouldn't be different,” he said.

Maj. Ron Keel, commander of the sheriff's department law enforcement division, agreed that “we'll have the same response for emergencies,'' but there would be a reduction in police visibility because of reduced road patrols. Even if there were no contract, there would still be two patrol districts there, he said.

He said the reduction will cause some rescheduling at the sheriff's district station, but any reduced visibility, he said, will be limited to times when calls for service are lowest.

Mr. Anderson said that in contracting for the extra deputies, trustees at the time relied on a charge of about $430,000per year for additional deputies, but county officials said that figure was noted in the contract as a minimum charge.

The township owes the county $192,000, said James O'Neal, an assistant county administrator. State law says the sheriff's department must recoup all expenses in providing services to townships.

Mr. O'Neal said there wasn't any intent to mislead the township when the contract was signed, but the real expenses are greater than were assumed at the time of the agreement.

He said that arriving at an amount in advance can't be exact, because of differing pay scales for individual officers, the potential need for overtime and other factors that impact the cost to the sheriff's department.

Payments to the county began for the amount billed in 2001, then began to fluctuate in other billing periods, and then matched the contract's estimated quarterly cost.

Nevertheless, the real cost to the sheriff has been greater, county officials say, and will have to be paid by the township.

Mr. Anderson said township officials will continue discussions with the county, but acknowledged that state law requires full repayment. The contract runs through July 2004.

The township has no police department but relies on the sheriff's department for all police activities. A recent survey of township residents in connection with development of a master plan for the community showed a high degree of satisfaction with the deputies.



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