Village discusses police options after levy fails

By Nick Walton -

ST. PARIS – The village council discussed potential options for the future of police services during Monday’s regular meeting.

Last month, voters rejected a 4.90-mill additional levy aimed at supporting the St. Paris Police Department 435 votes to 354 votes.

During a Nov. 28 work session, council discussed the village’s options for balancing the budget in the general fund since the police levy failed. Mayor Joe Reneer said the possibility of putting another levy on the spring 2017 ballot was brought up during the work session.

Reneer said if village officials place another levy on the May 2017 ballot it would have to be submitted by February 2017.

“There’s a couple of issues that go with this,” Reneer said. “The first issue being there’s nothing scheduled for May 2 to be voted on therefore the village would front the entire cost of the election which could total between $5,000 and $6,000. The second issue that we have with that is if we did vote and let’s say that a levy did pass on May 2 it can not be worded to go back to this year, it would have to start Jan. 1 therefore we would not get any funds generated from that levy until about February 2018.”

Reneer said other options the village could consider include removing the income tax credit, going down to two police shifts a day or hiring the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office to provide law enforcement services for the village.

Reneer stressed he was putting all options on the table because the village is looking at a $50,000 to $60,000 deficit between where the village wants to be for 24/7 police coverage and where the funds are going to come in next year.

Council member Terry Ervin II asked when the village would receive funds if council rescinded the tax credit. Village Administrator Joe Sampson said April 2017. When asked how much money the tax credit would yield, Sampson said it was in the neighborhood of $113,000 and $114,000 based on 2012 numbers.

Another potential funding option council brought up was starting a GoFundMe account.

After council discussed options, council opted to move forward with looking at rescinding the tax credit. No action was taken towards this option during the meeting.

Council approves change to paid holidays

Council took action to recognize the day after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday for village employees.

While council was reviewing payment listings, council member Tyler Adkins asked village fiscal officer Richard Ford if he received any leave statements for the day after Thanksgiving. When Ford said he did not, Adkins asked for payments to village employees to be separated from the rest of the bills on the grounds of theft.

“It has been generally done that way that on the Friday following Thanksgiving we’ve always given the employees the day off,” Reneer stated.

“Here is your paid holiday, Thanksgiving not Black Friday,” Adkins replied. “You just started a few years ago but that’s against your own policies.”

Adkins argued unless the village employees submitted leave sheets for vacation the village cannot pay them for that date because it would be against village policy.

“This is something that we have done in the past and we have done it when you were an employee and you took advantage of it as well,” Reneer said. Adkins declared that he did not take advantage of the day off in the past.

Adkins was village street commissioner until June 2015.

A motion was put before council to separate the items from the payment listing, which passed 3-2 with council members Jana Crawford and Lynn Miller voting against the motion. Council member Niven Jester was not present at the meeting.

After unanimously approving the adjusted payment listing, council voted to make the day after Thanksgiving a paid holiday retroactively to this year. The motion passed 3-2 with council members Adkins and David Palmer voting against it.

Council also approved paying the $1,972.78 that was separated from the payment listing by a vote of 3-2 with Adkins and Palmer voting against it.

Christmas in the Village

Reneer said the Christmas in the Village festivities held on Dec. 3 were very nice and well put together. When speaking on the event, Reneer said certain individuals destroyed luminaries in the village on Saturday evening.

“That information of who those individuals were has already been turned over to the police department so citizens were looking out after that kind of stuff and I got to commend them because Monday morning that information was at the police department because the individuals thought it would be interesting to Snapchat themselves doing it,” Reneer said.

In other action:

•Council listened to a presentation from Josh Luthman, president of Imagine Networks, a fixed wireless broadband company out of Troy aimed at providing internet for rural communities. Luthman said the company wanted to place equipment on the water tower where they would pay the village monthly rent and provide wireless internet to local customers. Council unanimously approved a motion allowing for the village to go into negotiations with the company for a monthly rental fee.

By Nick Walton

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.

Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.