Enon proposes new 5-mill police levy

Chief says time has come for residents ‘to belly up to the bar.’

Enon Village Council this month approved a five-year, 5-mill police levy to appear on the November ballot.

The proposed levy would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $175 per year, or $14.58 per month, Enon officials said. The levy would provide about $225,000 a year for the department and include the hiring of two full-time officers.

The village police department is fighting rises in support costs and a decrease in personnel, according to Police Chief Lew Wilcox.

“We’re really cognizant of the fact these are tax dollars. Nobody wants to pay taxes, but there’s a point in time when you have to belly up to the bar,” Wilcox said.

The council originally projected that the village would need to have at least a 3.5-mill levy. A financial plan from an accountant at Clark, Schaefer and Hackett in Springfield confirmed to council that a 5-mill levy would be necessary for future operation of the police department.

“We knew we would eventually be in the situation to have to ask voters for money. We’re a unique community in the fact that we have no income tax. So, we put the tax situation in the hands of the voters,” Mayor Tim Howard said.

Howard said that funds that had come in the past from the state are gone, and that burden has been passed onto the village taxpayers.

“When revenues are down and expenditures are up, we have to ask our voters for additional monies. Our philosophy is we hope you like the improvements we’ve made over the last four or five years, and we want to continue to give you good service with a full staff, and the way we can do that is with this additional levy,” Howard said. “Nobody is happy with the fact we have to ask our residents for more money, but that’s our reality.”

In 2016, the police department’s budget was $436,700. The village currently has had to dip into its general fund to help support the department.

“The cost of everything is going up,” Wilcox said.

The cost for regional crime lab resources alone have grown exponentially. The village’s crime lab budget for 2016 was $1,100, but currently the cost is projected to rise to $6,800 in 2017.

Wilcox said the department has lost two members and is down to just two full-time and five part-time staff.

Money from the levy would limit the use of the general fund to cover police expenses. The issue would add back two full-time officers, and provide funds for increases in benefits.

“We’re not going to buy everyone Cadillacs to drive on patrol,” Wilcox said.

He believes that the decision for voters will be financial more than anything.

“I don’t think that anybody will not support us because of quality of service. It’s going to be a money issue,” the chief said.

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