BELLVILLE — The effort by supporters of a proposed three mill levy for the village Police Department got a boost Tuesday night at a town hall meeting.
With one week to go before election day, the village mayor and police chief presented facts and figures concerning police operations at a meeting at New Life Church.
The village’s four full-time officers receive a total of about $53,000 a year in pay, plus benefits.
But that figure is not competitive with neighboring towns and villages, said Police Chief Ron Willey.
The village in 2006 had six full-time officers.
Mayor Teri Brenkus said the officers “protect us.”
The way the system is set up means that only once officer is on duty per shift.
Willey said “that’s it.” If an event occurs where it requires the officer to do necessary paperwork, it means he or she is taken off active duty in the job. It can take three or four hours to do the paperwork, he said.
Willey said “no police officer takes the job to get rich.”
The three mill levy is supposed to cost a taxpayer $35 per $100,000 valuation on a home. It averages 29 cents a day, said Willey.
The expenses for the police department in 2016 were $358,969.93. That was 28 per cent of the general fund.
A total of $7,000 was paid in overtime to officers, said Brenkus.
The pay Bellville officers get isn’t competitive, Willey said. There are fewer people going to the police academy. The village has looked for officers willing to come to Bellville at the wages offered, but “we can’t find them,” said Willey.
Rich Osborn, a former council member who was in the audience, said people are likely to go where they can make more money, or they “get more crime.”
Mansfield and Lexington were mentioned by several people at the meeting as competitors for valid Bellville staff.
Brenkus said figures show the prevalence of drugs is in an upward surge. In 2016 there were 46 drug cases and 58 alcohol related events. In the first seven months of 2017, those figures are 47 for drug, and 71 for alcohol. There are drug houses in the village, she said.
Facts also show the village has grown. Investigating cases has become more difficult and training of officers is in place.
A committee, Citizens for a safer Bellville, has been working on promoting the levy.
Numerous signs have been posted on village streets.
One person attending the meeting said she had “good vibes” about the possible passage of the levy.