The village of St. Paris will ask voters for a new levy for its police department on the November ballot, in part to pay for more full-time officers.
Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey estimated that the 4.9-mill levy would bring in $114,000 annually to the village. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $171.50 annually.
If approved, the money would go toward paying for increases to officers’ salaries and motor vehicle, communication and other equipment maintenance.
“The goal is to provide consistent … protection to citizens,” St. Paris Mayor Joe Reneer said.
The main focus of the police department is to hire full-time workers, he said.
“After a few years, people tend to go to larger cities that can pay them more,” Reneer said.
The rise in transfers and resignations that St. Paris has experienced is common for police departments, he said, but the village cannot compete with higher-populated cities.
Due to the department’s smaller budget, a majority of the officers are part-time.
“They make $10 per hour with no health or life insurance,” Reneer said. “Officers use their police commission to have a higher-paying regular job.”
The police levy would supply the department with money to pay for more full-time officers, village leaders said. Currently the department has two full-time officers but Chief Jim Pence has announced his upcoming retirement.
The department has recently received a grant to enhance the radio system, but Reneer believes that promoting part-time officers to full-time workers will help better serve the community.
“The difference between two minutes and 20 minutes can be drastic,” Reneer said. “Having good quality assistance with a two-minute response time … is wonderful.”
The levy will be included in the general election ballot on Nov. 8 of this year.
“We have been doing more with less,” Reneer said. “Now we have to ask the citizens for the levy.”
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