2011-12-03 / News

Baltimore to try again for police levy

By Charles Prince

BALTIMORE - Any voters reconsidering last month’s rejection of a new four-mill police levy in light of last week’s layoff of two full-time police officers will have a chance to change their vote on March 6, 2012.

Monday night, village council members unanimously approved the final step to put the four-year, four-mill levy back on the ballot. The resolution was approved as an emergency since the deadline for ballot issues for the March election is December 7. Council’s next regular meeting won’t be until Dec. 12.

Just two residents attended Monday’s meeting. Leann Kirkpatrick expressed concern about losing two police officers.. “I’m very concerned for the safety of the town,” she said. She asked if there was any way to keep them on the job until voters have another chance to approve a new levy.

“I wish the community knew what the outcome (layoffs) was going to be,” she added.

Robert Van Dyke said he voted “no” because he thought the pre-election drug bust had been delayed to build support for the levy. “I now know the facts and that wasn’t the case,” he said. Van Dyke, who said he served as a Baltimore police officer years ago, asked what could be done to bridge the gap between now and March to get the two officers back. He also questioned the level of the village’s financial support of the department.

“The police department has had well over 50 percent of our general revenue funds,” council member Jim Hochradel responded. “There is no money to go get. We looked everywhere we could possibly look.”

Van Dyke questioned Village Administrator Marsha Hall’s salary. Hochrael said only 10 percent of her salary comes out of the general fund. Most of her salary is paid out of the water and sewer funds since she runs both operations. Hall’s responsibilities are broken out as 60 percent village administration, 20 percent as zoning officer and 20 percent as property maintenance officer.

“I think she earns every dime she gets,” council member Bob Hankison said. “We used to have three people doing them,” council member Tony House added. “She is doing all three.”

Hochradel also told Van Dyke that even if voters approve the new levy in March that money won’t be collected until the following year. It would raise $189,000 each year. That money would go into the general fund, but it must be spent for “police protection and services.” “ A police levy by state law has to be used for police,” Fiscal Officer Flo Welker emphasized. “It will be set out separate as a line item.”

Earlier in the meeting, Hall presented a general fund operating funds comparison that had been requested by Council President Judy Landis. Hall went back to 2006, calculating annual net general fund revenue (after removing extraordinary items like grants and exceptional inheritance tax payments); police department operating expenses; all other general fund operating expenses (doesn’t include water, sewer, streets and most administrative costs); and year-end general fund carryover.

• Net Annual General Fund Revenue:

2006 - $498,115
2007 - $489,858
2008 - $493,498
2009 - $521,202
2010 - $556,227
2011 - $540,576 (thru 10/31)

• Police Operating Expenses/
Beacon calculated % of GF
2006 - $186,974/37.5%
2007 - $215,641/44.0%
2008 - $260,429/52.8%
2009 - $275,345/52.8%
2010 - $311,822/56.1%
2011 - $283,482/52.4%*
*both revenue & expenses
through 10/31/11

• Year-end GF carryover
2006 - $139,901
2007 - $184,854
2008 - $ 62,386
2009 - $ 39,134
2010 - $ 22,231

There was some positive financial news Monday night. Hall explained that the village was facing a 29.9 percent increase in the cost of health insurance from Anthem effective Dec. 1. She and Welker sought an alternative and council members unanimously approved a switch to United- Healthcare. Hall said it is “very similar coverage,” but it now includes a separate single/family deductible of $1,500/$3,000 for prescription drugs. The new plan also retains the $1,500/$3,000 deductible for medical services in the Anthem plan. The move and the addition of a separate deductible for prescription drugs turned a 29.9 percent increase into a 3 percent savings.

Council members also unanimously approved an incentive for village employees to move to a spouse’s health plan. The village will pick up the incremental cost for adding a spouse, provided it represents a savings to the village.

Council members also unani- mously approved a one year contract with Cargill Salt to supply water conditioning salt to the water treatment plant. Cargill was the only bidder and the price increased $10 a ton ( 8.8 percent) over this year’s price.

A new two-year contract at the current compensation levels was unanimously approved for Village Solicitor Jeff Feyko.

During committee reports, Kalish said the Planning Commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. at Thursday, Dec. 8. Members have several specific issues to address and will continue to work on revising the village’s land use plan.

In his report, Police Chief Michael Tussey said he had been briefed on Officer Kennedy’s open cases. Kennedy handled most of the department’s felony cases, but didn’t have enough seniority to avoid the two-officer layoff. Tussey said several of the cases are at the breakpoint. He will prioritize them and work one each week himself. Right now, they are working a possible multiple victim child abuse case.

Only Hochradel spoke during the old business/new business portion of the meeting. He said quite a bit was accomplished with the $246,640 left in the general fund after police expenses were paid. One storm water job cost $19,000 this year. “Our village employees are doing more with less,” he concluded.

Hall said the village office is closed to the public from noon to 1 p.m. daily. Half of that is for lunch and the other half is for uninterrupted work to try to offset the loss of an administrative assistant.

Council’s next regular meeting is set for 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at the village hall.

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