Budget Reductions In The Police Department
June 20, 2011
For the past 25 years, the Butler Township’s General Fund has subsidized the police department in order to keep the department operating. The amounts transferred average $375,000 a year. Due to our continued reduction in property tax revenue, the pending expiration of the Fire/EMS/Streets contract with the City of Vandalia and steep reductions in the State’s 2012 budget to our Local Government Fund and Tangible Personal Property Tax receipts, the General Fund can no longer support the excess amount of transfers needed to keep the police department operational at current levels.
Over the next three years, the police department must reduce its budget by at least $520,000. We have studied all the options and reduced our operating budget as much as possible. The only option left that can significantly reduce the operating cost is a reduction in staff. To help keep officers on the street and reduce the total number of layoffs, on September 1, 2011 Chief of Police Danny Hobbs will retire after over 10 years of dedicated service to the township. Once Chief Hobbs retires, the position of Captain will be vacated and not refilled. Unfortunately, this move alone is not sufficient to meet the overall required cost reductions.
On Monday, May 23, 2011, during the 2012 budget meeting, the Board of Trustees determined that due to a lack of funding, it was necessary to begin staff reductions in the form of layoffs. These layoffs will start with 1 position reduced in July 2011 and the potential for up to two more by the beginning of 2013. “We regret having to reduce our police force, but due to the current circumstances with the economy, we have no choice”, said Township Administrator Kim Lapensee. “The police department will begin working a new schedule in order to maximize officers on patrol.”
Butler Township currently employs 15 sworn officers including a Chief, Captain and Detective. This number will be reduced to 11 over the next year and a half through layoffs and the elimination of the Captain position. The department is partially funded with a 4.9 mil continuous levy, last passed in 2006, that generates approximately $1,000,000. An additional $500,000 is generated through other taxes and government funding. The additional money needed to operate the department is transferred from the Township’s General Fund. The total budget for the police department in 2010 was $1,861,093 In order for the police department to survive, the Township will need to cut positions, reduce services and raise revenues.
The Butler Township Police Department is made up of an exceptional group of individuals. Maintaining a high level of responsive service to the township while ensuring an economically sustainable police force has been a top priority of the Board of Trustees. Although the township reduced its overall budget by 11% for 2011, more needs to be done. The Township Trustees, Fiscal Officer and staff are currently pursuing the following initiatives:
- Expanding the current Joint Economic Development District (JEDD) that is now in place with Stonesprings Care Facility. If the JEDD can be expanded to include more of the Miller Lane business district, this will help the Township generate the necessary funds to keep the current staffing levels and make improvements to the business district. “Almost all of the township’s revenue is in the form of property tax. By encouraging more business involvement in the JEDD, the township has the ability to collect shared income tax thanks to our collaboration with the City of Vandalia”, said Mike Lang, President of the Butler Township Board of Trustees, “The amount of income tax revenue collected would either eliminate or reduce the amount of a possible future police levy.”
- 2. An Auxiliary Police Officer Program. In order to supplement the current full-time police ranks, the police department is starting the process to hire non-paid auxiliary police officers. The current job climate for new police officers is difficult and highly competitive as is such, there is a large pool of qualified and certified candidates with which the township hopes to supplement the patrol force.
- The Township charges for police and fire services required for car crashes for non-residents. If any non-resident is involved in a car crash and a fire engine or police officer is dispatched to the scene, the car owner that caused the crash is billed for these services. This is not a money maker for the Township, but it helps to off-set the costs of running these two departments.
- 4. Place a levy on the ballot to raise additional revenue for the police department. In this current economic climate, the last thing the Township Trustees want to do is raise taxes. Only after all other means of revenue are pursued and additional cuts enacted, will this decision be made.
- 5. Study the feasibility of joint policing or contractual services with other jurisdictions. The proposed state budget includes money for local jurisdictions looking to combine services.
The police department has been hurting financially for years. The local reductions in property tax revenue coupled with the announced cutbacks from the State of Ohio have brought this issue to the forefront. Although these cuts and reductions are painful, they are ultimately necessary for the fiscally sound operation of the township.