BLANCHESTER — A village council member has contacted the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office to get an idea on the expense if it were to provide law enforcement services in the town.
Council member Don Gephart stated he had spoken with Sheriff Ralph Fizer Jr. to find out what it would cost if they entered a contract to get similar services. He said he did this as a way of looking at another option after no interest was shown in putting a 10-mills police levy on the ballot at a December council meeting.
Those discussions came about after a 1 percent income tax levy failed in the November election, 550-301.
“There are two things you could do when you’re looking at the money. You can either cut your expenses or raise your income. We tried to raise the income with a tax and we weren’t able to do that,” said Gephart.
At the meeting, he prefaced his findings by saying this was not because he thought Blanchester Police Chief Scott Reinbolt or the other officers were doing a bad job. He also emphasized he spoke to Fizer by himself.
According to him, the village’s annual police budget now is $573,222 and the costs with the Sheriff’s Office would be $448,593.
In a five-year contract this would give them a supervisor and six deputies. He added it would easy for the county to do it because they’re bigger and have equipment that they have to buy.
Fizer stated Friday in a News Journal interview that he had done this before with other villages in the county.
“I feel like if they contact me and ask me, I need to respond. I can’t just say ‘no, we’re not interested’ because that’s not fair to the people,” said Fizer.
He said the sheriff’s office currently has contracts with Clarksville, Midland, and Martinsville and the only way a contract would be entered officially is if the council approved it.
“What I’m trying to do is find a cheaper way to do this but give us the same quality we’re used to,” said Gephart. “I just wanted to get people’s minds working to think what we can do to save and raise money.”
Thursday night’s council meeting was the first time Chief Reinbolt had heard about this. He said he viewed this as a “political ploy” by Gephart to “scare the community” so they’ll vote for a 10-mills police levy.
He told the News Journal that Mayor John Carman had met with Fizer last year to discuss a possible contract for police coverage. But in talking with Carman he was told similar future discussions would not take place without his knowing.
Carman’s previous discussions were about possible assistance the county might provide if budget constraints leave Blanchester’s police force understaffed during certain shifts. Fizer offered increased patrols, business and home checks and occasionally stationing a deputy within the village.
On another item, Gephart said they’ve filled out a grant application to get $62,633 from the Recycle Ohio Grant.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.