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Portage police debate resumes PDF Print E-mail
Written by DEBBIE ROGERS/Sentinel Staff Writer   
Tuesday, 02 June 2009 09:24
PORTAGE – The fate of the village police department could be decided at the next council meeting on June 15.
Monday night council again discussed the department which, according to the clerk-treasurer’s figures, is losing thousands of dollars a month.
“It is a fact that we are losing a whole bunch of money,” said Councilwoman Tamara Sharp.
Mayor Mark Wolford said he believes there are some discrepancies in the numbers.
“I’m still confused about how there can be such a huge loss all of a sudden,” he said.
The mayor questioned how the department’s costs were approximately $153,000 in 2008 and $40,000 more this year. He pointed out that officers’ hours have been cut and no raises have been given.
“How can it cost us that much more?” Wolford said.
Sharp said council was delaying the inevitable, much like the request from the Ohio Department of Transportation to remove the traffic light in Portage . Council on Monday also tabled that issue until June 15.
“Putting it off and putting if off. In this case, you’re putting it off based on evidence supplied by the village treasurer,” she said.
The burden for proving the numbers wrong should be put on the mayor and anyone else who disagreed, Sharp said.
“I believe we are losing money. You can look at the checking balance and see we are losing money,” she said.
Council President Jay Sockman said there was a balance of about $24,000 in the village checking account.
“We’ve got to deal with what’s going on now and according to these numbers we need to do something,” he said.
After the meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Bruce Shepherd said the balance as of today was $46,372. “The bottom line is every month we’re a little less,” he said.
The state auditor’s office put Portage under fiscal emergency in April after it showed deficit balances in the general fund and streets, totaling $135,000 this year and $119,000 in 2008.
At a council meeting last month, Shepherd detailed the police department deficits. In January, the losses were $8,188; in February it was $6,111; in March, where there was a worker’s compensation payment, the total was $14,499, and in April it was $4,660. The reports were generated in conjunction with auditors.
Wolford said his research shows steady police activity since 2007. His numbers say officers have about 110 total traffic cases a month and bring in about $7,000 in revenue.
“I love the police department,” Sockman said. “But having a $5,000 loss is not good when we’re hurting.”
He suggested waiting for the May numbers and talking about it more at the June 15 council meeting.
Wolford suggested that Sockman talk to Portage residents who, he said, want a police department.
“But we can’t spend ourselves into a hole,” Sharp said. “Without a special levy for the police department I don’t believe we can spend thousands of dollars on it month after month.”
Sockman said he has talked to residents about police “and they say boot ’em.”
Councilman John Jividen said they must not lose sight of the police department’s role.
“We can kick numbers around all we want to, but the purpose of a police department is protection, not revenue-making,” he said.
Portage has a police chief who works 40 hours a week, but is not considered full time and is not paid benefits. There are six part-time officers who patrol another 52 hours a week.
In another police-related issue, Sharp said Village Administrator Ron Sharp talked with the Wood County Sheriff and the village would not be charged a fee if it has to disband the police department, then start it again and require dispatching.
“Putting it off and putting if off. In this case, you’re putting it off based on evidence supplied by the village treasurer,” she said.
The burden for proving the numbers wrong should be put on the mayor and anyone else who disagreed, Sharp said.
“I believe we are losing money. You can look at the checking balance and see we are losing money,” she said.
Council President Jay Sockman said there was a balance of about $24,000 in the village checking account.
“We’ve got to deal with what’s going on now and according to these numbers we need to do something,” he said.
After the meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Bruce Shepherd said the balance as of Monday was $46,372. “The bottom line is every month we’re a little less,” he said.
The state auditor’s office put Portage under fiscal emergency in April after it showed deficit balances in the general fund and streets, totaling $135,000 this year and $119,000 in 2008.
At a council meeting last month, Shepherd detailed the police department deficits. In January, the losses were $8,188; in February it was $6,111; in March, where there was a worker’s compensation payment, the total was $14,499, and in April it was $4,660. The reports were generated in conjunction with auditors.
Wolford said his research shows steady police activity since 2007. His numbers say officers have about 110 total traffic cases a month and bring in about $7,000 in revenue.
“I love the police department,” Sockman said. “But having a $5,000 loss is not good when we’re hurting.”
He suggested waiting for the May numbers and talking about it more at the June 15 council meeting.
Wolford suggested that Sockman talk to Portage residents who, he said, want a police department.
“But we can’t spend ourselves into a hole,” Sharp said. “Without a special levy for the police department I don’t believe we can spend thousands of dollars on it month after month.”
Sockman said he has talked to residents about police “and they say boot ’em.”
Councilman John Jividen said they must not lose sight of the police department’s role.
“We can kick numbers around all we want to, but the purpose of a police department is protection, not revenue-making,” he said.
Portage has a police chief who works 40 hours a week, but is not considered full time and is not paid benefits. There are six part-time officers who patrol another 52 hours a week.
In another police-related issue, Sharp said Village Administrator Ron Sharp talked with the Wood County Sheriff and the village would not be charged a fee if it has to disband the police department, then start it again and require dispatching.
 

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