Vienna seeks police operating levy

Would generate $90,000

VIENNA — The Vienna Township Police Department is seeking a 1-mill, five-year operating levy that would generate $90,000 annually for day-to-day needs of the department.

This is the township’s third attempt to get voters to pass a levy, but this time at a reduced millage.

Township voters rejected 1.5-mill versions of the levy in May and November of last year.

The township has two police levies in effect. A five-year, 1-mill police levy, first approved in 2003, generates $90,084 annually, and another five-year, 1-mill police levy, first approved in 2008, generates $90,986 annually. This additional operating levy would raise another $90,000 a year annually.

Township officials said the police department currently operates on a budget of $300,000, funded by the 2-mill levies and the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which is in the township, with the balance paid from the township’s operating fund.

Trustee Heidi Brown said the state has continually cut funding from the township’s operating fund. The 5-mill levy is needed to make the police department self-sufficient, she said.

Police Chief Bob Ludt said the department, which has a part-time chief, two full-time officers and nine part-time officers, answered 4,512 calls in 2015, with the average response time of less than four minutes.

He said the department has only one paid officer per shift for coverage 24 hours a day seven days a week. Officers also volunteer hours to allow two officers per shift.

Officers are paid $10.50 per hour. Officials said the average salary of part-time officers is $11,000 a year.

The township also pays the county $1,445 a month for dispatching services through the Trumbull County 911 Center. Also, the township pays for continuing training to keep officers up to date on procedures.

The police have a DARE officer in the schools, which is partially paid for by a grant and help from Mathews Local School District. The township and school each pay $2,812 and the remaining $5,625 comes from a grant.

In 2015, fuel costs for the police cruisers was $17,138. The police patrolled more than 71,000 miles last year and made 2,498 security and welfare checks for residents.

Brown said the department is fortunate to have mutual aid with Howland, Brookfield and Liberty police to provide needed coverage.

Ludt said the problem the police department faces is it having to dig into the general fund.

”We have been getting busier. There have been more burglaries and break-ins. The police department received between 300 and 400 calls per month. In September, there were 385 calls,” he said.

Total calls in 2011 were 4,990 and 5,020 in 2014.

Ludt said the department provides coverage for the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which pays $30 an hour per officer through the Transportation Security Administration.

”There needs to be an officer at the gate at the airport for each flight,” Brown said.

”Short of a catastrophe, we can’t leave the airport,” Ludt said.

He said the department also responds to various calls at the neighboring Youngstown Air Reserve Station.