Saturday, August 14, 1999

Clearcreek to try again on levy




BY DAVID ECK
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        CLEARCREEK TOWNSHIP — After watching voters defeat police levies twice in nine months, township officials are hoping that a third attempt to bolster their financially strapped police department will be the charm.

        Township trustees late Thursday took the first steps toward placing a 1.5-mill police levy on the November ballot. They are expected to hold a special meeting on Aug. 18 to officially place the levy, one day before the filing deadline.

        A 1.5-mill levy would generate about $300,000 a year for the police department. Two existing levies provide an annual $750,000, Township Adminis trator Dennis Pickett said.

        A 6-mill levy, defeated in unofficial results 810-746 last week, would have provided the department with $1.2 million for operations. It needed 55 percent of the vote to pass. In November, the same levy, and an additional 1.8-mill levy that would have collected $300,000 more in taxes for the department, were defeated by a wider margin.

        Township officials are opti mistic that a third levy will be successful.

        “Through letters and through personal contact (with) the citizens of the township since the defeat of the special election in August, there is significant additional interest in passage of this issue,” Mr. Pickett said. “Dozens of people have volunteered to help with the campaign and to help reach the voters with the message. I find that very much encourag ing.”

        Trustees Bob Wade and Dale Lamb couldn't be reached Friday for comment.

        The failed levies have left the township of 9,500 residents with an annual budget of $750,000 a year for police protection. But officials have said that may not be enough to operate the department, especially now that three-year federal police grants the township has used are expiring or have ex pired.

        Besides trying for another levy, options included cutting services, laying off officers or disbanding the police department and contracting with the Warren County sheriff for police protection.

        The department is operating with a bare-bones staff, with two vacancies, an acting police chief and officers searching for employment or set to leave, Mr. Pickett said.

       



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