CLEAR FORK VALLEY — The Bellville village council is going to be asked to approve a push to get more money for the village’s police department at next week’s council meeting.
It has been proposed that a three mill levy be put on the November ballot, designating money for police department use.
A committee of the council debated the correct procedure at a Tuesday night meeting, and village administrators were there to put in their views.
According to Police Chief Ron Willey, the police department has been “getting by.”
Staff needs include getting more full-time police officers, instead of existing on the current line-up: Chief of police, three full-time officers and five part-time officers.
The finance committee of the Bellville village council debated two items: was asking for a three mill levy going to be enough, and can a rough percentage of general fund moneys be designated as set aside for certain departments?
The committee decided the three mill levy should be recommended, to run for a period of five years. Then, the amount could be re-examined.
Mayor Teri Brenkus said a campaign will be put together in the next few weeks.
The Bellville Police Department not only serves residents within the village limits, but also patrols the rapidly growing area around I-71 and State Route 97. A new Love’s Real Estate station is being built to the north of the intersection. Avita Health Care is going to be building an office building across from the Wendy’s at that intersection.
The Duchess service station has recently expanded, and motels and restaurants draw a lot of people to the area.
The police department gets about $364,000 from the village general fund. The three mill levy would generate about another $106,000. Money raised by that levy could be used only by the police department.
Village fiscal officer Brigette Gatton said the levy would assess a tax of $35,000 per mill. To a homeowner, it would be $35 per $100,000 valuation on a house.
Chief Willey made a computation and said it would be 29 cents a day.
The department needs more people. A problem is brought on when a new person is hired because that staffer has to be trained. Doing that training can cost $2,300, Willey said.
The department needs “to get ahead of some things instead of chasing,” he said. When someone is hired part time that means the person “won’t know something and won’t do it right,” he said.
Committee member Joann Palmer said it has been 12 years since the village has asked for more money for the police department.
Committee member Clint Knight said it is a “key talking point” to say that the department needs to move to full-time, not more part-time staff.
People in the village are going to want to know “why” when they are asked for more tax money, Knight said. They need to know it’s not to be able to “buy things,” but that the department’s operating budget is not enough, he said.
Jason Guilliams, who was recently named to council and serves on the committee, said he wanted to know that the village wouldn’t be adding “another layer of bureaucracy.”
Gatton said the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 left the police department behind, but the village managed. Willey said some types of training are mandated and the village “can’t skimp.”
Guilliams later said he believed the committee’s proposal should “strengthen the police department.”
Council meets June 6 at 5:30 p.m. in the police department building, and again on June 20. The finance committee will meet again June 19 at 5:30 in village hall.
The police department’s budget amount is about 35 per cent of the general fund. The streets department is another division that gets money from the general fund. Their amount is about five per cent.