Trustees hope to hire two more deputies

Batavia Township residents are one step closer to having the chance to approve or deny the increased police protection that many of the residents have been seeking.

For more than two years, residents in the quickly expanding township have been asking the trustees to look into increasing road patrols in the township where land development has boomed, resulting in thousands of possible new home sites in the space of only a few years. The trustees recently approved placing a small levy on the ballot to fund more officers, and during a special meeting on Aug. 25, the trustees further refined that levy request for submittal to the county.

“We need to adopt a resolution defining our district,” said trustee Deborah Clepper. “We’ll go to our resolution that we adopted at that point and amend it. We did not designate a specific area, and it was my intention that the district would include all of the area that is unincorporated.”

Two weeks ago, the trustees decided to give township residents the choice of increasing road patrols by approving a one-mill levy that will most likely be continuous in nature. That levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home around $30.62 a year, and the funds raised by that would allow the township to hire two additional full-time officers to patrol the roads. The township currently enjoys the dedicated patrol of a single sheriff’s deputy.

“The purpose of this is to raise funds for police protection for Batavia Township,” said township administrator Rex Parsons. “Currently, we contract with the sheriff’s department. With these funds, the trustees would be able to expand that contract or, if they choose, they would be able to use it for their own police department. That hasn’t been discussed, this is for additional deputies.”

The township first approved the usage of a dedicated deputy some years ago when federal homeland security grants were available to fund such a position. Since that time, those government funds have dried up and the township and sheriff’s department have taken on the burden of funding that position. That deputy then rides a dedicated route keeping him – for the most part – on patrol in the township, except for when mutual aid is called for.

Besides that deputy, other deputies frequently patrol in the township, but only on a limited basis. The levy, if passed, would give the township funding to hire two more deputies to patrol Batavia Township full time.

As the population has grown, residents have begun to petition the trustees for increased patrols after the population growth has presented an increase in everything from road traffic to thefts.

One development complained that increased traffic has resulted in fast and negligent drivers, and also complained about thieves being drawn to the new neighborhoods filled with high-class housing. Business owners have complained of increases in vandalism and break-ins. Growth in the township has put it on pace to catch up with the county’s largest townships, Union and Miami, each of which has a dedicated police department.

In order to submit the levy, the township had to designate what area would be offered the protection of the patrols, in this case unincorporated areas of the township. This would exclude villages within the township.

“We have to establish a district, which is basically the unincorporated areas of the township,” said Parsons. “Parts of Amelia and Batavia are in our township, but they both have their own police department. We don’t want those residents to pay taxes to us for police protection they already have. We’ll establish the district as the unincorporated areas, and then we’ll send it to the auditor, who will tell us how much revenue will be generated from the levy. With that, the trustees will vote one more time and resolve to put the levy on the ballot.”

However, should areas of those villages or the villages themselves choose to reenter the township, the measure would also give the trustees the ability to offer them protection.

“We don’t anticipate it, but we need to know it,” said Parsons. “If for some reason Amelia or Batavia would decide to dissolve themselves, it would go back into the township. Then, we’d provide the service for them, so we’d need to capture that revenue.”