Deerfield studies police levy

Township looking to put levy on ballot in 2012 or 2013.

LEBANON — Because the County Commissioners intend to discontinuing funding a portion of the Warren County Sheriff’s Deerfield post, the township trustees eventually will have to increase its police services levy.

Deerfield Twp. Administrator Bill Becker said he will recommend the trustees put the levy request in the November 2012 general election or the May 2013 primary.

“We’ll need to add at least 1 more mill,” said Becker of the current 2.5-mill continuous levy.

This decision to ask voters to OK a property tax increase comes on the heels of a police services contract dispute between the county and township. The county had paid for six sheriff’s deputies until the new 2009 contract was signed — that’s when it gets confusing.

A Jan. 8, 2009, contract between Warren County and Deerfield Twp. says the county will fund four deputies in 2009, 2010 and 2011. But it was not followed. The discrepancy was discovered when Becker began evaluating the police services funds.

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Instead a Dec. 5, 2008, letter proposing the county fund four deputies in 2009, two in 2010 and none in 2011 was followed, and no one on either side knows why the signed contract was not followed. This resulted in the county not paying the township a collective $606,000 for 2010 and 2011.

“We had been living by the letter that was signed Dec. 5, not the contract that was signed,” said Commission President Pat South. “The draft contract was never amended to comply with the letter.”

Commissioners met with Becker and Deerfield Twp. trustees Pete Patterson and Dan Corey during a work session Tuesday morning to seek a resolution. The county agreed to pay what it owed to the township, but will have to amend the current, or agree to a new, contract. In principle, the commissioners will pay the township just more than $418,000 this year for four deputies and just more than $187,000 next year for two deputies. Next year’s payment, however, is due to the lack of payment for deputies in 2010. Commissioners won’t authorize the financial books to be reopened in order make up for the funding it owes for 2010. Instead, the commissioners and trustees agreed the county would fund two deputies in 2012.

But after next year, the commissioners indicated they won’t be funding any deputies assigned to the Deerfield Twp. post. The township will have to fully fund the $3.8 million budget.

“I’m willing to live up to this contract but we need to live up to the reality of the future,” South said.

But Corey said the police services levy OK’d in 2004 took into account the county’s funding of six deputies.

Forming its own police department is out of the question, said Patterson and Becker. It would take $2 million to $3 million more annually to fund a police department, Becker said. The township contracts 25 Warren County Sheriff’s deputies. And the $606,000 “allows us with the carryover and what we have coming next year to be in the black for 2012,” said Becker. He said that would enable the township to avoid dipping into the general fund.

“Now 2013 is a different story,” he said. “We cannot continue to fund 25 deputies at 2.5 mills.”

The current 2.5 mill continuous police services levy costs the owner of a $100,000 home $76.56 a year and was approved in 2004 by 20.4 percent, or 3,019 votes. An additional mill, Becker said, would push that annual tax payment up by $30.63 for a total of $107.19 a year.

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