More police officers could be on Ross Twp. streets by new year

Ross Twp. residents could see the police force add to its ranks by the first of the year since voters Tuesday passed a levy giving the department almost $800,000, Police Chief Darryl Haussler said.

Haussler said the ultimate decision lies with the trustees, but they have enough money left in the budget this year — and some officers already on their part-time roster — to start moving on the plan to add four full-time police officers.

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“It’ll be cutting it close but we should be okay,” Haussler said about starting to hire people even before the new money is available, probably in March.

Voters passed the levy 62 percent to 38 percent, according to final unofficial results from the Butler County Board of Elections.

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Voter turnout countywide was almost 53 percent and the precincts in the township mirrored that level of voter participation — something that “thrilled” Ross Twp. Trustee Tom Willsey.

“I’m thrilled with the turnout, this isn’t just a slim number of the people of Ross voting, this was a majority of the people voted in the election,” Willsey said. “Which tells us that they have a lot of confidence in the job our police department is doing. To me it’s just enlightening to know people think we’re doing a good job.”

Willsey and Trustee Ellen Yordy — she said voters were giving her a “thumbs up” as they left the polls Tuesday — voted to ask taxpayers for more money to hire three full-time police officers and bring a detective on full-time. Trustee Keith Ballauer was against raising taxes.

The new levy will bring in a total $782,882. The approved levy replaces the existing levy — capturing current property values — and adds 1-mill.

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The owner of a $100,000 home will pay about $45 more, according to the Butler County Auditor’s Office. The average price of homes in the township is $194,000 and the additional tax would be about $88 a year for the average homeowner, according to the auditor’s office.

Ballauer told the Journal-News he still believes the township could have made-do with what they have — without the additional funding — but the residents have spoken.

“I support the residents and their decision to vote for the increase,” he said. “It is the responsibility of this administration to make sure the residents get their money’s worth and that all their expectations are met. I’m happy the residents are happy.”

If the voters had rejected the levy request the entire revenue stream would have ended — not just the 1-mill addition — this year because the trustees opted for the replacement rather than a renewal.

Capt. Jack Tremain, who has been the only full-time employee while Haussler had been on medical leave — he just had a kidney transplant — warned early on if the request failed the Butler County Sheriff’s Department could take over with a “skeleton crew.”

But with the township growing, “we need more than that here,” he said.

“I’m excited,” Yordy said of the win. “I’m glad for the police department too because they work hard.”

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