New Richmond police funding a hot topic for village council

By Kristin Bednarski
Sun staff

New Richmond Village Council members are torn between whether or not they want to pursue a police levy or if they want the police department to cut costs.

Council members have been discussing the police department for the past couple of months, trying to find a solution to the loss of funding that will be coming, especially after Beckjord Station in 2015.

“The council is split right now,” Councilman Rich Mathews said. “I believe there are three wanting to see cuts made and three who want to see a levy put on.”

Mathews said members of the finance committee seem to be interested in asking for a levy, while members of the safety committee seem to be interested in having the police department make cuts.

Mathews said he thinks they need to plan for the cuts they need to make now.

“Our contention is to try to have the police patrols cut back into the highest priority of times and lower patrols other times,” Mathews said. “Late at night we may not have anyone on anymore.”

Mathews said he feels residents in the village are not interested in paying more taxes.

“I think it has been made obvious from the citizens over the years,” Mathews said. “It’s a bad time for every municipality.”

Councilman Paul Vanderbosch said he feels residents would support a levy, but he is in favor of an earnings tax, rather than a property tax.

“I think a one-half percent or one percent earnings tax sounds better, and is better than a property tax,” Vanderbosch said.

Vanderbosch said the earnings tax would mean everyone with an income in the village would pay the tax and not just property owners.

“I would be willing to pay more for a well-run, well-organized police department, and I think many of my neighbors would as well,” Vanderbosch said.

Vanderbosch said New Richmond Police Chief Randy Harvey met with the finance committee and discussed police finances.

“It’s clear we can’t run the department with the amount that is coming in,” Vanderbosch said.

Vanderbosch said his hopes are that one day the village can have a police departments residents are proud of, and possibly share those services with neighboring communities.

In November, council members discussed investigating a contract for services with either Pierce Township or the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office.

“We had entered into some talks with Pierce Township,” Mathews said. “They requested for us to see if we had a majority of council interested in pursuing it. It was a three to three tie and the mayor broke it with a ‘no’ vote.”

Police Chief Randy Harvey said he believes it would have been impossible for the village to afford either contract.

Harvey said they sheriff’s office did give them information about how much a contract would cost for police services.

“They supplied the most recent Batavia Township contract, which would fall in line,” Harvey said. “That was out of our reach.”

Harvey said he put together a list of expenses and costs for the next several years to present to council members.

In addition to operating expenses, Harvey said he is worried about being able to pay for other equipment and service needs including radios, a new vehicle, and more.

“I know by 2014 I am going to need a new car,” Harvey said. “And my biggest kicker is that we are still in the rear of 911 fees.”

Harvey said those additional expenses exceed $200,000.

“When you take that into account with the loss of revenue it is not a pretty picture,” Harvey said.

Harvey said he is looking at being in the red almost $150,000 by 2015.

“With those losses there is only one cut, and that is personnel,” Harvey said.

He said cutting personnel means cutting services for residents.

“Each and every year with those losses, that means less and less coverage,” Harvey said.

Harvey he is not sure how council is going to act, if they will put a levy on the ballot, or not.

“I don’t know what they are going to do, I really don’t,” Harvey said. “My fears are they are going to lay back and procrastinate and not make a decision.”