Perrysburg Twp. eyes police cuts

LIME CITY – One day after voters rejected a new 3-mill tax, Perrysburg Township Police Chief Mark Hetrick
painted a grim picture of how services could be slashed.
Trustees are willing to continue supplementing Perrysburg Township’s police budget to offset drastic cuts
to the department, but another levy attempt could come soon.
In a memo made available during the trustees’ evening meeting Wednesday, Hetrick said the cuts would put
township police in a position of being reactive instead of proactive, also describing in detail how
severely things would have to change to make up for the deficit.
The past several years, trustees have been making up the for the loss of estate tax proceeds with
transfers from the general fund. A history of those transactions was requested but was not immediately
available.
Hetrick said the matter was discussed twice in executive session, when he was asked to have a plan for
cuts ready if the levy should not pass.
He said all specialized police units would be eliminated, including the recently established crime scene
unit and bike patrol, and the detective bureau would be reduced from three to one. The township would
also withdraw its school resource officer from Penta and no longer participate in the Northern Regional
SWAT team.
There would be no after-hours calls taken by the detective except for serious felonies, and officers
would save on vehicle and fuel costs by patrolling with two in each car. Special programs would end, as
would community outreach programs except for senior watch. The training budget would be eliminated, and
officers would no longer respond for non-emergency vehicle lock-outs or private-property crashes.
"The citizens have spoken. We have to be tight with our budget, and these are the cuts we may have
to make," Hetrick said.
Trustees seemed willing to continue general fund transfers to stem such a dramatic change, but it’s not a
sustainable model, and the board agreed they’ll likely need to go back to voters next year with a
smaller levy proposal.
"You guys have done a great job of putting something together, but I think we need to be a little
careful on how to do this," said Trustee Gary Britten. "I’m not opposed to funding the police
department a little bit out of the general fund until we can maybe get a levy again, but we can’t fund
it like we have the last couple years at $900,000-plus.
"These are good things to look at, but to slash all this to this extent, I’m not sure I want to do
that."
Trustee Craig LaHote said cutting so much from the department would be too severe all at once, but that
$100,000 to $150,000 could perhaps be trimmed until another levy can be attempted.
"The voters said no, but they said no at the level that we asked for," LaHote said. "So
maybe we could find a way to make some cuts and go back for lower millage, because the vote was
relatively close."
Roughly 55 percent of voters cast a ballot against the levy, which failed 1,974 to 1,627.
Township department heads will begin preliminary budget discussions with administration next week.
In other business, the board:
• Heard that Tom Wylie of Wylie and Sons agreed to install wheel-washing equipment. Trustees have
expressed concern for the impact the business has on its neighbors, and sought specifically to address
the problem of its trucks tracking mud onto Glenwood Road.
• Approved a letter to Perrysburg Schools indicating that the Perrysburg Community Center in Perrysburg
Heights will remain open for after-school tutoring, regardless of the outcome of a dispute between
trustees and the Perrysburg Heights Community Association.