Village council talks Bellville police funding at recent meeting

BELLVILLE – Year end responsibilities were on the minds of village council members at last week’s meeting, where much of the talk focused on a known problem for everyone – finances.

A meeting of the committee handling money duties occurred before the regular meeting.

Village fiscal officer Brigette Gatton gave committee members raw numbers, which showed items like carryover budget amounts for each year.

But talk focused mostly on expenditures and budget needs of the Bellville Police Department.

The village previously passed a four mill levy, which was designated for the police department. But money from the village’s general fund has been transferred to the department.

Committee chairman Jason Guilliams said there have been increases in fuel costs for the department and it has been proposed there be a new police cruiser.

Member Jason Potes said the village had just gotten a new car, and he was surprised at the number of miles that had been placed on it.

Vic Swisher, council and committee member, said “give me a horse and buggy.”

Swisher said over $600,000 goes to the police department.

“Where does the money keep coming from?”

He said he had been told police officers had been doing reports on overtime hours.

That brings up costs, he said.

He said he doesn’t see why getting a new police cruiser would “save an officer’s life.”

Mayor Teri Brenkus said, “Yes, it does.”

She encouraged committee members to do a ride along with a police officer and they would see what it is like to be in a cruiser.

They get rough use, she said, and she had heard “rattling” like when an airplane takes off.

She said village citizens made a statement about supporting the police department when they voted for the police levy.

Guilliams said the committee must act so decisions show “responsibility to citizens.”

Potes asked how much general fund money had gone to the police department in 2018. Gatton gave figures for 2018 and an estimated figure for 2019.

Potes asked how much would be “leveraged” in 2019.

It was agreed Gatton should break down figures by village departments so members could make comparisons.

In the council meeting, village administrator Larry Weirick reported how traffic would be controlled with the opening of the new elementary school building.

School Street will be temporarily closed at the beginning and end of each school day for 45 minutes. The concern is that kids cross School Street but buses can block sight lines for them.

The village is sending out notices asking for information so the village can apply for a $750,000 grant to help fund a new regional wastewater treatment plant.

One will be built, in conjunction with the village of Butler.

Bellville needs 300 responses to submit with the grant application. If that number of responses is not obtained, the notices will go out again, said Weirick.

The committee within council that handles police matters is the safety committee, and a meeting has been set for that group was planned Tuesday at 4 p.m. in village hall.

Council noted the departure of Jim Beal from the planning commission. He will serve until the start of 2019. He has accumulated 28 years of service to the village, on council and on the commission.

Sarah Mussman was voted in for the following year as village solicitor.

A new police officer has joined the force. He is Christopher Andrus. He is in the process of training with officer Thomas Queen.