2010-07-24 / News

Millersport voters to see levies for police, streets

By Charles Prince

MILLERSPORT – John Shirk is Millersport’s Police Chief, Mayor Dean Severence said at the July 13 village council meeting.

Shirk’s current ‘acting’ status is due to the village’s standard six-month probationary period, not because he is a temporary replacement for former Chief Randy Lewis, Severence added. Lewis is on a leave-of-absence to serve as a civilian police instructor in Iraq. Upon his return, he will be offered a position with the department, the mayor said, but there is no guarantee that the chief’s position will be held for him. Shirk’s probationary period could be cut short after council’s safety committee reviews it at a special meeting set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 10.

In his report July 13, Shirk said both total hours covered by officers and training hours increased in June. Six officers were on duty for BLASST and all donated their time. A lot of residents are using the new Vacation Home Watch program. All it takes is a quick call to the police department to have officers specifically check your home during a vacation or other absence.

Shirk continues to pick up equipment at little or no cost. Last month, he added another F- 350 pickup truck, two stake bed trucks and five in-cruiser video cameras.

Shirk also brought up in-street fundraising at the corner of Lancaster and Refugee streets. He wants anyone collecting funds in the street to wear a safety vest. “Minors shouldn’t be in the street,” Shirk added. “We want to make sure it is safe for everybody.” Organizations are already required to register with the village before soliciting funds, but Severence and council members agreed it made sense to turn the entire program over to the police department. The vest requirement will be discussed at the August 10 safety committee meeting.

Shirk wants to amend the village’s codified regulations to allow some violations, primarily parking, barking dogs etc., to be handled as civil matters locally. Currently, the police departments cites violations under state codes which sends the cases and most of the fine money to the county municipal court. Handling minor violations locally would allow fines to be cut with the village getting all the revenue. “We’re basically keeping control of the money,” he explained.

Shirk announced that Officer Mark Consoslo has been promoted to sergeant. He will be in charge of all training, including the monthly training sessions. Sgt. Robert Blackburn has resigned his commission with the department, Shirk reported. He was unable to make the time commitment necessary to retain his reserve officer status.

In other council business, council members unanimously suspended the three reading rule and adopted ordinances placing two replacement levies on the November ballot. A five-year five-mill street levy is expected to raise $105,200 a year for street repairs and maintenance. That levy is currently being collected at 3.431010 mills. If voters replace it, the tax rate will return to its original five mills. That would increase taxes $48 per year per $100,000 of valuation for an owner-occupied home.

A five-year two-mill police levy will also be replaced. It is currently being collected at 1.731822 mills. If voters approve, it will return to its original two mills and raise $42,100 per year for the police department. That would increase taxes $9.15 per year per $100,000 of valuation for an owner-occupied home.

“It is the same millage,” council member Chuck Mesko said.

Council members reluctantly approved a preliminary budget for 2011. The village is required to file it with the county auditor’s office by July 20. Council’s finance committee scheduled a meeting for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 21 for a more detailed discussion of the 2011 budget. Council member Shane Wise was particularly uncomfortable with the lack of time to discuss the preliminary budget before it had to be filed with the county.

The hot weather has revenue at the village’s 40-year old pool running ahead of last year. The pool continues to hold water much better than last year.

In his report, Fire Chief Bill Yates said the department has made 487 runs so far this year. The average response time from receipt of the 9-1-1 alarm to faceto face with the patient is five minutes, 23 seconds.

When asked about the relationship with Walnut Township, he reported that he expects no change in township’s payment procedures that withholds tax receipts in an attempt to make four nearly equal payments during the year rather than remitting the village’s share of tax receipts when received by the township. That would result in two large payments and two relatively small payments per year.

“They (trustees) have our budget for the next five years,” Yates said. Finances are tight with the village operating and staffing two stations 24/7 with 60 percent of the tax revenues after deducting their share of the ombudsman’s salary. The Thurston/Walnut Township Fire Department gets the remaining 40 percent after their salary share to operate and staff one fire station.

Yates said the department is “getting by,” but can not make any significant equipment purchases. The department’s socalled new medic now has about 65,000 miles on it. The medic at the Fairfield Beach stations has about 160,000 miles. There is no money to purchase the next generation of heart monitors which go for $30,000 each, Yates said. He added that informal meetings on a possible fire district are continuing. Mesko is representing the village at the July 19 meeting for community members. Yates will attend the August 4 meeting for fire personnel.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 10. It is proceeded by a safety committee meeting at 6 p.m.

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