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Hubbard Township residents object to disbanding police department

HUBBARD TOWNSHIP — Residents on Monday didn’t like that Hubbard Township trustees might disband the police department and instead use the services of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Department.

Trustees cited as reasons for a possible protection service change the increased numbers of delinquent taxpayers in the township, less funding coming from the state and increased costs for insurance and other expenses.

That idea did not go over well with the more than 40 people who attended the night’s meeting, indicating they support the police department and will support levies to retain that protection service.

Several police officers also attended.

While trustees did have some discussion on the matter, a town hall meeting to further address the police department is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Hubbard High School auditorium

Resident Carol Morrow said the situation in the police department did not just happen overnight.

“If you take our police department away from us and give it to the sheriff’s department I can tell you, from the people I have talked to, you will never get another levy passed,” she said.

Trustee Fred Hanley said manpower has been cut from the police department, but there is still less money coming in.

“Everything has gone up but our revenue stays the same,” Hanley said.

He said the police payroll has increased from $480,000 to $611,000 this year mostly for wages, benefits, and increased insurance costs.

If the township were to use the sheriff’s department it expects a $200,000 savings per year, Hanley said. He said past efforts for consolidating the police with Hubbard city or Brookfield township did not move forward as a way to save money.

Also, trustees said the speed cameras were stopped on Interstate 80 in the township while Liberty, Weathersfield and other communities are generating funds for their police departments and other needs in their townships

Resident Bill Coletta said everyone is upset with the idea of disbanding the police department.

“We need to look at other alternatives than disbanding the police department,” he said.

Resident Diana Edwards said the police are putting their lives on the line for this community and now trustees want to get rid of them.

“Can’t something else be done than ending the police department? We want our police department,” she said.

“We have tried and done what we can, but we can’t stop the bleeding,” Hanley said.

Hanley said the police department is running out of money and has less than $96,000 with concerns that the department will not be able to get through the first quarter of the 2020.

Hanley suggested the need to take out a bank loan of between $393,000 to $423,000 to get the department through the first quarter.

Township fiscal officer Sue Goterba said the loan would only provide a temporary Band-Aid.

She said the state auditors need to come in and address either the township being in fiscal emergency or fiscal watch and the need to disband the police department.

“We need them to come here and look at the situation and show us where we can make needed cuts. A loan is only putting a Band-Aid or fork in a leak. We helped the police department before with a bank loan and made some progress but not enough. We need to stop the bleeding,” Goterba said.

Trustee Tom Jacobs said the loan is only a temporary fix with the township police likely back in the same situation next year.

The loan idea was tabled. Trustees will discuss finances and closing up funds at 11 a.m. Dec. 31 at the end-of-the-year meeting.

Hanley said the township is limited on funds, which prevents it from getting grants that require a local match. He said the state also has cut the state local government funding to the township from $103,000 this year to an expected $62,500 in 2020.

“The township has 23 percent of the property owners who do not pay their taxes. The delinquent taxes have increased and have hurt us. It is taking its toll on the township and we are now running out of time for the police department,” Hanley said.

He said the state has seen the township is running out of money

He said the township has also seen the moving of many families, and vacant homes, since General Motors Lordstown closed earlier this year.

Resident Jim Smith said something more needs to be done than just a loan for “a Band-Aid for a gushing wound.” and suggested trying police levies which he and others at the meeting said they would support.

Residents noted Niles city was in fiscal emergency and did not end its police or fire departments.

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