Saturday, November 29, 2014

Middlefield PD Levy on Fall Ballot
March 13, 2014 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

"(The increase) is not a lot to pay for the police protection we enjoy in this village." Ben Garlic

Middlefield Village Council voted last Thursday to place a five-year, 2-mill replacement police levy on November’s ballot.

If passed, the levy yield will increase from $65,000 to $166,000 per year, said council President Rick Seyer.

It would replace a 1-mill levy passed in 1980 that has cost property owners $14 per year for a house valued at $100,000, he said.

The replacement levy would cost about $70 annually per $100,000 property valuation, Seyer said.

Village council has been frugal with the police department, turning the dispatch service over to Geauga County Sheriff’s Office in 2012, said Councilman Ron Wiech.

The sheriff’s dispatch is free to the village, a savings of about $170,000, according to previous reports.

The village police department budget is about $980,000 annually, Seyer said, adding about $900,000 comes out of the general fund.

“We subsidize the police department,” he said. “The police levy (yields) a small percent of actual costs.”

Tax dollars coming from area businesses have gone away thanks to state legislation, so other funds are needed, Wiech said.

“I think we’ve kept expenses down,” he said.

Mayor Ben Garlich said the increase from $14 to $70 sounds horrendous, but various councils over the years chose not to ask for levy increases to keep up with department costs.

“(The increase) is not a lot to pay for the police protection we enjoy in this village,” Garlich said.

He mentioned later the village’s two-year contract with Police Chief Arnold Stanko will be up within the month and Lt. Joe Tucholski will be promoted to chief at the April council meeting.

His promotion will not include any increase in pay, Garlich said.

The agreement with Stanko when he signed the contract was that he train the lieutenant for the position, Garlich said.

Tucholski graduated from the FBI academy’s executive training course about a year ago and was promoted to lieutenant. He has been with the department for 14 years.

In other action, council voted to pay for COBRA health insurance costs for Erin Thomas, the police officer who was injured during the March 10, 2013, shooting on North State Avenue.

Seyer said 18 months of health insurance will cost the village about $5,500 if Thomas, who is dealing with her disability, doesn’t come back on the job in that time.

Water Main Break Repaired

It took village employees and contractors 22 hours to repair the water main break on Hillcrest Avenue that occurred around 10 p.m. Feb. 8, Director of Streets and Utilities Charlie Ehrhart told council.

That Saturday, three employees turned out to deal with the break caused by an equipment malfunction during a fire, he said.

A water line pressure blast caused hot water tanks to pop valves, but no permanent serious damage occurred in the 20 homes affected, Ehrhart said.

Residents and businesses brought hot drinks and food to the crew working in the freezing temperatures, he said.

“It wasn’t the best day to be out there, but we didn’t give up,” Ehrhart said.

The homes were without water until late Sunday, but he said he didn’t hear any complaints.

“I got emails complimenting your crew for its dedication,” Garlich said.

Ehrhart said the ground is frozen more than four feet down in places where snow has been removed. He figured the break cost $1,800 for the two contractors who were called in plus overtime for the employees.

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