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New Franklin approves Clinton police contract

11/15/2012 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

NEW FRANKLIN — New Franklin will continue to police Clinton at a cost many city officials acknowledge is below actual expenses.

New Franklin Council voted 6-1 to approve the four-year policing contract beginning Jan. 1 for Clinton at the Nov. 7 meeting, with Councilwoman Judy Jones (at large) voting against the legislation. Jones said she voted against the proposal because it was not fair to New Franklin residents.

The contract states New Franklin will supply all police officers, including their salaries, benefits and training, as well as vehicles, equipment and related maintenance service and supplies. The police will make arrests and provide continuing investigation of cases, and also provide the village with all police and fire dispatching services.

According to the legislation, the cost for each year of the contract represents a 2 percent increase from last year and includes: $70,688 for 2013; $72,102 for 2014; $73,544 for 2015; and $75,015 for 2016. Clinton got a freeze on the price for 2012.

Mayor Al Bollas said the Summit County Sheriff’s Office gave Clinton officials a $100,000 cost estimate for a year for similar services.

The Clinton police contract has raised concerns for the past several years, with several residents and officials stating New Franklin is subsidizing the actual cost of police service to the village.

Councilman Harry Gehm (at large) provided the following cost comparisons at the Dec. 7, 2011, meeting: $50,068 per square mile in New Franklin and $19,250 per square mile in Clinton; $78 per call in New Franklin and $62 per call in Clinton; and $95 per person in New Franklin and less than $52 per person in Clinton.

With both New Franklin and Clinton officials expressing concerns about its finances, the cost issue is being scrutinized even more closely this year.

New Franklin resident Robin Aikey said at the Nov. 7 Council meeting the contract is hurting the city not only today, but also in future negotiations.

“This is difficult to quantify, but it sounds like a better deal for Clinton than for New Franklin,” added Councilman Paul Adamson (Ward 1).

Most city officials agreed, however, that eliminating police services entirely to Clinton was not a good idea, and discussed reducing services instead.

“Not patrolling Clinton is not an option,” said Gehm.

He suggested cutting services such as police response to vehicle lockouts.

New Franklin Police Chief Dan Davidson said not patrolling Clinton will not save the department money, and its budget would remain at close to $2 million because “we have to drive through Clinton anyway.” He also said Clinton would experience an increase in crime if it is not patrolled.

“Although there is some concerns with costs to our residents, we are leveraging our overhead,” said Councilman Joe Parsons (at large).

Bollas added the joint policing contract is important because it represents an effort in regionalism.

“We need the money, too,” he added.

In other business, Council approved:

• the transfer of $100,000 from the General Fund, with $50,000 each to the Police Fund and the Dispatch Fund; and

• an Assistance to Firefighters grant of $946,360, in conjunction with Clinton and Barberton, to establish a P52 radio system, which can tie into the Copley, Bath and Fairlawn system and eventually the Summit County system, and will alleviate coverage problems in the southern end of the city. New Franklin’s matching share will be $27,444.

In other business, Bollas reported police are searching for the owner or owners of two dogs, including a German shepherd mix and a Labrador/rottweiler mix that attacked a Valley Crest Drive man Nov. 1. The man required stitches to an arm and leg and is currently getting rabies shots. A homeowner said the dogs did not appear to be strays, as they were clean. Anyone who knows the owners of the dogs should contact the New Franklin Police Department at 330-882-3281.

Bollas also reported area mayors are working on concerns about a state bill that would take control of the collection of municipal income taxes from municipalities and raise the number of days a laborer is allowed to work in a city without paying income tax from 12 to 30 days.

The next regular Council meeting will take place Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5611 Manchester Road.

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