Sabina’s proposed police levy to be decided

By Gary Huffenberger -

SABINA — For the second time in six months, residents here will vote on a 0.5 percent municipal income tax Tuesday.

But this time around, the tax is expressly for the purpose of maintaining police services.

Last fall, the purposes of the tax as worded on the ballot were described as general municipal operations, maintaining equipment, improvement of municipal services and facilities, and capital improvements. That proposed tax was turned down at the ballot box 499 to 407 (55.1 percent to 44.9 percent).

Sabina Mayor Dean K. Hawk has said if a proposed police levy does not pass this spring, Village of Sabina officials “would likely need to reduce the police staff to two, possibly three [full-time officers].”

If the tax question is defeated, Hawk projected Sabina police officers would be utilized for 10 to 15 eight-hour shifts weekly, “leaving as many as 88 hours per week that the village would be covered only by a roving deputy sheriff,” said the mayor.

The county deputies, unlike village police officers, would not be stationed in town, Hawk added.

The outcome, according to a leaflet sponsored by the Committee for Promotion of the Sabina Police Levy and written by Jim Mongold, would be “less pro-active police work, longer response times, and a higher crime rate.”

In addition, cutting back the police roster “would also make it difficult to allow time to train auxiliary officers who cost the Village nothing in salary,” the leaflet states.

Funding of the Sabina Police Department was reduced $44,200 (or 13.2 percent) from 2015 to 2016, according to the mayor.

Sabina Fiscal Officer Nancy L. Cornell recently said if it weren’t for a $200,000 transfer of money from the town’s Sewer Sanitation Reserve Emergency Fund to the General Fund — a move authorized by the Clinton County Common Pleas Court in late January 2017 — the police force already would be smaller.

Presently, there are four full-time officers including the chief, a part-time paid officer who does not receive benefits, and three auxiliary officers, said Sabina Police Chief Keynon Young.

He said Sabina has an excellent police force given the circumstances.

It’s nobody’s fault the village budget is in the position it’s in, according to the chief.

“It’s the economy in Sabina. The businesses are gone, and that’s [the businesses’ employees] what used to support the police department. Now it turns to the residents,” Young said.

He thinks the town’s citizens are “really supportive” of the police department.

“My door is always open if someone has questions, and if you ask questions you will get answers,” said the chief.

The leaflet states new officers start out at $13.50 per hour gross, that is, prior to retirement contribution, federal, state and local income taxes, and health insurance premium.

“As a department, they are sworn to protect us. As a Village, we should do what we can to take care of them,” states the leaflet.

If the five-year tax is approved, it will increase the Sabina municipal income tax from its existing 1 percent to 1½ percent.

The police levy, when fully implemented, is estimated to generate $130,000 a year, the mayor said.

If the tax passes on Election Day, it will go into effect beginning July 1, 2017 and ending June 30, 2022.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

By Gary Huffenberger