In a regularly scheduled meeting Monday, the Orange Township Board of Trustees began exploring the possibility of placing a police levy on the November ballot without increasing or adding new taxes.
Trustee Debbie Taranto, who is spearheading the proposal, said the township has grown to the size of a small city, and residents are asking why there’s no police department.
Taranto added Genoa Township has the same size population as the Orange Township and pays “$4.3 million” annually for its own police department; the city of Powell has a population of “13,000 paying $3.1 million” annually for a police department; and the city of Delaware, “population 41,000, pays $8.13 million” annually.
“We would have two deputies on duty at a time, and it would cost $639,000 per year,” she said of the proposal. “I really feel we’re getting a value at $639,000.”
Taranto said the township once had a levy to support a contract with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office for additional law enforcement coverage. In 2010, the levy failed, but the township continued to pay for the contract out of the general budget until 2012 when it was dropped.
Taranto said the contract with the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office would allow more of a police presence in the neighborhoods, parks, and at the pool in the summer.
This is not the first time trustees have looked at improving services without impacting taxes.
In November 2016, voters approved reducing a 1.5-mills parks levy at the time to down to a 1-mill park levy, and the creation of a .5-mill levy for road maintenance. Trustees are once again considering reducing the current 1-mill parks levy and using a part of the millage for a police levy to keep from adding or increasing new taxes.
Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa was on hand Monday to answer any questions.
“I kind of see this as the first step in terms of your levy planning process and where you need to be,” he said. “Currently, the parks levy is bringing in $1.2 million.”
Kaitsa said the current cost of the 1-mill parks levy to a resident of $100,000 market value home is about $26.64. He said the average value of a home in Orange Township is $350,000.
“Orange has the highest evaluation of all the townships in the county, taxable at $1.4 billion,” he said.
Fiscal Officer Wes Mayer said he was all for increased response times in his neighborhood.
“I think it’s a good idea and needs to be done at some point,” he said. “The responsible way to do this is to do projections of what it is going to cost. My concern is 3-5 years down the road.”
Mayer said he didn’t want to run out of money in later years for the parks.
“The first question is can we afford to reduce any of the levies we have?” he said. “We need to have good financial data that supports whatever decision supports decreasing or increasing a levy or adding a new levy. We don’t have the information.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.