No police levy for New Richmond

New Richmond Village Council members have decided not to include a policy levy on the November election ballot this year.

The legislation for a levy failed due to the lack of a motion at council’s July 24 meeting.

“We knew we had a lack of support,” councilman Rich Mathews said.

Vice mayor Richard Hilt added that there were not enough council members in favor of the levy for it to pass at this time.

“We feel there is a dire need for it, but not enough support for the time limit,” Hilt said.

Mathews said they plan to re-group and hopefully be able to offer some type of police levy on the ballot next year.

Councilman Nick Wolf said he did not support passing a levy because he felt it was not the right time.

“We are not prepared now,” Wolf said about putting a levy on the ballot this year.

Wolf said since they have more time, they can look at more numbers and also compare an earnings tax to a property tax and see which one residents would prefer.

“Now we will have time to talk to people,” he said.

Council members previously discussed their feelings about including a 3 mil police levy on the November ballot during a special meeting July 17.

At the meeting, council members were split down the middle about their support for a levy.

Mathews said then that he felt they should at least try to get a levy passed for the police department.

“If we don’t try we might as well make layoffs now and get it over with,” Mathews said at the time.

Wolf also expressed at the special meeting that he did not feel this year was the right time for a levy.

“I think we can get through 2013 if we use the general fund,” Wolf said. “I think a year from now we will have much more luck.”

Hilt told council members at the special meeting that approximately $155,000 would be generated by a 3 mil levy, but council would have to vote on the levy before they could get the numbers certified by the county auditor.

New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey attended the special meeting July 17 and discussed why he felt there was a need for a levy.

“I want to provide a service to the village that is top notch,” Chief Harvey said. “I can’t do that under these conditions.”

Chief Harvey said the department has been running about two police officers short, especially considering the amount of work for them to do in the village.

“This year has been extremely stressful on the officers,” Chief Harvey said. “The village is way too busy to have one officer on a shift.”

Chief Harvey said the department is also in need of a new police car and in need of funds to repay 911 service charges.

Chief Harvey agreed that it may be possible for the police department to make it through the next year without a levy, but they would not be able to improve the department or conditions and they would have to use money from the general fund.

“I could foresee that becoming an issue,” Chief Harvey said about using general fund money. “Is the general fund going to support the things I need that are coming up?”

Council members could not promise Chief Harvey that the general fund would support everything he needed during the special meeting, but they all agreed that they would support the police department any way they could.

Chief Harvey did not attend the meeting when the motion for a levy failed, but council members echoed their support for the department despite the decision not to include a levy.

“There is no doubt the police department is going to need money,” Wolf said. “We are going to need something next year.”