More Butler County officials support changes at disaster agency

Butler County Emergency Management Agency workers rescue a survivor during a mock tornado drill in 2010. STAFF FILE/2010
Butler County Emergency Management Agency workers rescue a survivor during a mock tornado drill in 2010. STAFF FILE/2010

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones has renewed his effort to manage the county Emergency Management Agency.

Jones submitted 29 letters of support, including some from township officials, to Butler County commissioners on Monday. The letters give support for having the sheriff supervise EMA operations.

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Jones maintains that having his office oversee EMA operations is cost-effective and safer for the community. Every city and township pays a per capita cost for emergency management services.

“Combining resources and saving taxpayers money is paramount, and I believe I could manage the countywide EMA operation without hurting the pockets of the taxpayers. I can provide a safer, more advanced service to county residents; it just makes better sense because it is better for the people who live here,” Jones said.

Many of the letters were addressed to Commission President Cindy Carpenter.

“It has been brought up, and it is being looked into. In terms of how it will move forward, I do not know at this point,” Carpenter said, agreeing it is not the first time the subject has been discussed. “But it is picking up steam this time. That is different.”

Butler County Commissioner T.C. Rogers said, “There is a positive on both sides of the issue. We want to support our sheriff, but also we are responsible to the many present police chiefs and fire chiefs which are against it. We think they should work it out.”

Butler County Commissioner Don Dixon, who is the commission representative on the EMA board, said he would rather not comment about the subject until he hears from the sheriff.

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Those who wrote letters of recommendation for the sheriff’s department to take over EMA operations include:

  • Robert Cornwell, executive director the Buckeye Sheriff's Association
  • retired Fairfield council members and mayor
  • current Fairfield council members
  • some Liberty Twp. trustees
  • some West Chester Twp. trustees
  • Hanover Twp. officials
  • Morgan Twp. officials
  • one Madison Twp. trustee
  • Lemon Twp. trustees

Jones said then the plan would eliminate a $400,000 taxpayer bill, but a specific financial plan was not presented.

EMA Director Matt Haverkos said the sheriff still has not submitted a specific plan to himself or the board.

Many of he letters were dated in early January after the Butler County Trustees Association made a motion support the current management structure in mid December, Haverkos pointed out adding some of the letters include similar statements “and folks were given a statement to use.”

“At the end of the day, I would say most people are interested in seeing what is the best professional and economical way to do emergency management,” Haverkos said. “One thing I would say where we are at today versus where we have been. We have reduced the budget by at least 14 percent. We have actually set up a sustainable fund for the budget. So we are now a budget soluble organization which collaborates with organizations throughout the county.”

The Emergency Management Executive Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. today, Feb. 14, on the first floor of the Government Services Center. Haverkos encourages attendance and questions are welcome.

“I think the discussion should be had. The sheriff could submit a plan, they could submit that plan to the county, from the executive EMA board, to the trustees, to the fire chiefs, to the police chiefs and I think that would be a good opportunity for some of this to be really hashed out that to this point has not,” Haverkos said.

Staff Writer Denise G. Callahan contributed to this report