As Bellville grows, so does police department responsibility

BELLVILLE – The growth of the village also means taking on new responsibilities, officials acknowledged Tuesday.

Many of those duties fall to the Bellville Police Department. But though figures show an inflation of 11 percent for that department, adjustments because of accounting requirements, bring that figure down.

The safety committee met with fiscal officer Brigette Gatton to analyze numbers. She said with adjustments, the figure is 1.2 per cent.

A discussion of police department numbers drew criticism at last week’s council meeting.

The police department has a $54,000 figure for a new police cruiser. That figure also covers purchase of new computers for several vehicles.

The budget also contains figures for school resource officers. These are officers assigned to the local schools, at the request of the Clear Fork Valley school district. The figure in the budget for that is $29,000.

Some of these items are one-time only amounts. Because they must be listed, they bring the bottom line numbers into a different range.

Police chief Ron Willey told the committee the village didn’t have to put in numbers for SROs previously.

He said “next year things should be smooth as silk.”

Committee member Jason Potes said he believes two council members — Jason Guilliams and Vic Swisher — should welcome the more detailed information. He said the police department got the “brunt” of the discussion at last week’s meeting, but other departments should also be scrutinized.

Mayor Teri Brenkus said she contacted local towns and villages and was not able to get a good comparison figure. One town has a police department budget of $1.3 million and another, a budget of $255,000.

Gatton said figures for all departments could be compiled and information presented at next week’s council meeting. The next meeting is Dec. 18.

The committee discussed requirements of two new ordinances: one regulating barking of dogs, and the other, parking for recreational vehicles. Safety committee chairman J.J. Burkhart said he had received three calls on those changes. All concerned recreational vehicles.

The new ordinance requires those vehicles parked on streets to be moved every 72 hours.

The committee also discussed difficulties in obtaining new police officers.

Willey said figures from local towns show a difference in wages.

Richland County sheriff’s department figures show a new officer gets $18.93 an hour, then moves to $26.09 an hour.

Committee member Stephen Edwards said development along I-71 means more police services are needed and he said people come up with scams for credit card readers

He said “as the village grows, responsibility grows.”

By Louise Swartzwalder

Bellville Star