3 Clark County communities seek new taxes for safety forces

Enon Police Officer Mike Stratton prepares to start his shift Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff
Caption
Enon Police Officer Mike Stratton prepares to start his shift Friday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Three local governments will ask residents to approve new money to cover the cost of providing either police or fire services when they go the the ballot box Tuesday, Nov. 7.

The issues that will be on next week’s ballot include:

• Mad River Twp. trustees will ask voters to approve an additional .08-mill, five-year property levy to cover the cost for a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy to patrol the township 40 hours per week. It would cost about $30 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

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• Bethel Twp. will ask voters to approve a 2-mill, five-year levy for staffing and equipment for the township’s volunteer fire department. The levy would raise money for vehicle and equipment replacement. Along with their hourly wage, the levy would also allow the village to create a stipend program to provide an incentive for volunteers to work a night shift for the volunteer fire and EMS department. It would cost about $70 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

• The Enon Police Department is asking voters for a 2.5-mill, five-year levy to pay for one additional full-time police officer for the village. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $87.50 a year.

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This will be Enon’s third attempt to pass a levy, Enon Police Chief Lew Wilcox said. The village had asked for a 5-mill levy in the past and he said by cutting it in half, village leaders are more optimistic it will pass.

If approved, it would generate more than $119,300 per year for five years, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office.

The village currently doesn’t have an officer on duty around the clock, Wilcox said, and Clark County Sheriff’s deputies fill that void. The village lost three part-time officers in the past month after they were lured away by other local departments that could offer full-time jobs, he said.

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“We’re down to two full-time officers and four part-time officers,” Wilcox said. “We can’t keep part-time officers because even though we pay a decent salary, places are snapping them up because they can offer full-time.”

Bethel Twp. is also asking for additional revenue to resolve staffing problems, said Melanie Cochran, the township’s fiscal officer. The township has an all-volunteer fire department that operates from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily, but has seen few volunteers in recent years.

The levy would generate about $400,000 annually for five years if approved, she said, and would be used to cover equipment costs and create a stipend paid to night shift volunteers on top of their hourly wage as an incentive.

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“We are one of the only volunteer departments left in the area,” Cochran said. “We have been able to survive this long because of our high run volume.”

In Mad River Twp., Trustee Kathy Estep said the township has long contracted with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, for a full-time deputy dedicated to the township for 4o hours per week. But operating costs for the officer continued to climb, according to officials, and the township decided it had to ask voters to approve a property tax increase last November to cover the costs.

That failed and the township lost the deputy in January. She said some voters might have been confused because Enon also had a police levy on the ballot at, which is also the case this fall.

If approved, the new property tax would generate about $152,000 per year for five years.

“This levy allows us to have one deputy just for our township,” Estep said. “That means that one deputy gets to know the area and it really helps in terms of speeding and traffic issues. That deputy also works with us on controlling nuisance properties and enforcing zoning laws for us.”

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