New Carlisle adds deputy, but some want more

Tax issue had been expected to pay for additional patrols.

Continuing coverage

The Springfield News-Sun has been following New Carlisle’s financial woes and its affect on their public safety staffing. Coverage has included debate over keeping the city pool open, and the purchase of the Twin Creeks subdivision.

A year after cutting its law enforcement ranks in half because of budget constraints, New Carlisle is adding deputies again.

But while the city will have three full-time sheriff’s deputies on patrol starting in January, the city manager said the budget cannot afford a fourth as promised during a levy campaign earlier this year.

Voters approved a levy in May that was expected to generate about $500,000 annually in order to bring back the two of the four positions New Carlisle cut from its contract two a year ago.

The city doesn’t know yet exactly how much that income tax increase will bring in, and City Manager Randy Bridge said it looks like it will not be $500,000.

Right now, the city has budgeted $360,000 for deputies for 2016, which covers three full-time positions. Adding a fourth could bring the cost to nearly $400,000, depending on the years of service and benefit packages that the deputies who bid on the jobs have.

At a meeting last week, council agreed to discuss the idea of sharing a deputy with Bethel Township, which would bring the city closer to the goal of four deputies for less cost. Bethel Township Trustee Nancy Brown said she’d bring the topic up at their next meeting on Tuesday.

But several New Carlisle council members expressed their frustration at falling short of what they promised during the levy campaign.

“I think we have to deliver the equivalent of four deputies,” council member Richard Zsambok said. “We promised four and I think we need to keep our promise.”

Some members disagreed over whether the levy campaign had, in fact, specified a full four deputies would be restored with the slogan, “Return our deputies.”

“That meant four, not three, not bringing in extra duty. It’s four,” council member Ethan Reynolds said.

The council, and in turn the public, were misled by the previous administration to believe the levy would bring in enough to fully restore the patrols, Reynolds said.

So far, the city has only collected $36,000 from the additional 0.5 percent income tax. It may not be known until April how much the tax increase is actually generating, Bridge said.

Following the decision to add an additional patrol by the city council on Wednesday, Sheriff Gene Kelly announced on Friday that he has hired a new deputy who will begin work for the county next week.

Shane Groves, a Kenton Ridge and Clark State graduate, will be sworn in during a ceremony in the Raynor Room of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office at 10 a.m. Monday.

Groves has served as a reserve deputy since August.

“During that short time his diligent work ethic and enthusiasm for this career were abundantly clear to all who worked with him,” a release from the sheriff’s department said.

Following the decrease in patrols, incident reports increased in New Carlisle during the first six months of the year. The city freed up some money to add overtime patrols until full-time positions could be returned.

The overtime hours have been working well to increase law enforcement visibility during peak hours without having to hire a full-time person, Mayor Lowell McGlothin said.

“I think the extra duty is the way to go,” he said.

But the sheriff’s office cautioned that relying on people to pick up the overtime shifts can be risky.

“That is not something we can ever order people do to,” said Chief Deputy Doyle Wright, who answered questions from council Wednesday.

His recommendation was to add a third deputy back immediately, and then look into options to get a fourth, including sharing with the township.

Visibility is the key to deterring crime, he said. So having an additional deputy who is visible in the city and the township will have an impact, especially since criminals don’t just operate in one place.

“You’re never going to be able to measure visibility,” Wright said, but it’s proven to work.

Council members also expressed concerns that sharing a deputy could lead to tension.

“We have to look at how much time is spent outside of New Carlisle,” Zsambok said.

If the city is paying for 50 percent of the deputy’s salary and he or she is only in the city 30 percent of the time, that would anger people, McGlothin said.

“I would rather see us have a full-time deputy,” Rick Lowery said.

The city will also reinstate its policy of letting its deputies drive their cruisers home. That was previously eliminated to save on fuel costs, but Bridge said as long as they live within a reasonable distance, he’d like to let them begin taking the cars home again.

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