Portage police patrols to cease and desist

PORTAGE – Police patrols in the village will be arrested starting Dec. 9.
The department, which is being eliminated because of Portage’s dire financial situation, will cease
operations early next month.
The police had planned on working until the end of the year, but some council members suggested that they
stop writing tickets earlier to accommodate mayor’s court appearances.
At Monday’s meeting, Councilwoman Tamara Sharp said if tickets stop on Dec. 9, mayor’s court could wrap
up by Dec. 16. It is expected that the mayor’s court clerk will work through February, taking care of
any additional business.
"Since it’s costing us money, the sooner it ends, the better," Sharp said.
Police Chief Bob Bartz said he is still working, along with two other part-time patrolmen.
Mayor Mark Wolford said the police department brought in $5,138, through tickets, in October.
The department is also scrambling to collect unpaid fines and fees dating back four years.
After the meeting, Wolford said about $1,500 has been collected since letters went out notifying people
that they had outstanding money owed to Portage.
One of the drawbacks from the blitz is some people who had paid their fines received letters. Wolford
estimated that 15 letters went out in err.
The mayor’s court clerk and solicitor are working on the problem, he said.
"Something happened there and we don’t know what yet," Wolford said. "But they are also
paying off."
The village is expected to have a deficit of $128,822 by the end of the year. It was put under fiscal
emergency by the state auditor’s office in April.
To get out of the hole, council has eliminated the police department and made plans to put a 1 percent
income tax on the May ballot. It already implemented a 1 percent income tax in January to help with
Also at the meeting, council:
¥ Approved Wolford’s appointments of Judy Amend and Mike Brinkman to an ad-hoc committee studying
annexation. Village resident Mike Schmitz said he was disappointed that efforts to annex businesses
north of the town weren’t moving faster. After the meeting, Wolford said, "It doesn’t happen
overnight. There’s a lot of ducks out there and it’s hard to get them in a straight line."
¥ Put on hold two ordinances that may have to go through the planning commission and have public hearings
before they go before council. One is to make Hickory Lane a one-way alley. The other has to do with
subdivision rules for developers.
¥ Heard the Financial Planning and Supervision Commission, which is overseeing the village’s plan for
getting out of fiscal emergency, is meeting Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the town hall.