Locals working to pass November police levy in Bellville

BELLVILLE — A group of citizens who are passionate about the village are working together to promote passage of a levy in support of the Bellville Police Department.

The committee, composed of Mayor Teri Brenkus, Police Chief Ron Willey and several other residents, has had its first meeting to work on getting a three mill levy passed in November. The campaign to get the levy passed will be called “Citizens for a safer Bellville.”

The levy means a person with a $100,000 house would have to pay an additional 29 cents a day to support operations of the police department.

Brenkus said some people have misunderstood information about the levy, thinking that the term “mill” means millions of dollars. That is not the case, she said.

Brenkus said there will be a door to door campaign to spread word about the need for more money for police operations. There is going to be information on Facebook about all police officers, so that people can know who is doing work in the village.

There is going to be a town informational meeting in September or October to provide everyone detailed information, she said.

It’s going to get harder to keep the police department going, Brenkus said, because the training officers must have is going to increase. Every time an officer has to go into some kind of training, that means the force is reduced by one person.

Willey says there is much activity within the village, which requires officers’ support: domestic violence, drug activity and traffic issues. So far the development at I-71 and State Route 97 hasn’t made attention there more important than activity within the village.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department already provides dispatching for Bellville and supplies some equipment for officers. But their staff is not available to the village, Brenkus said.

The police officers “love this town” and show “allegiance to this town, Brenkus said.

Though police officers got a raise in April, they are “still at the lower end” in terms of salaries, she said.

“We might pay less, but we care more,” said Brenkus.

Other committee members are Becky Schemine, Joe and Barb Kindt, Sherri Benick and Kay Buxton.