Thursday, August 5, 2004

Warren sheriff defends Deerfield post

By Erica Solvig
Enquirer staff writer

DEERFIELD TWP. - Warren County's sheriff and deputies turned out in force for this week's township meeting to counter a trustee's public critique of their pay and training.

Sheriff Tom Ariss backed his staff Tuesday night, praising their education and experience and saying the township post is a "good, efficient operation."

More than a dozen deputies were in the audience to support Ariss' remarks.

"Our people work hard for the dollars they earn," Ariss said. "... You got the best. You got the Cadillacs. If you want to go Lexus, we can do that, too."

The sheriff's comments were in response to statements by Trustee Lee Speidel, who is not supporting a 2.5-mill replacement levy for police services. The other two trustees voted to put the levy on the ballot.

"What I said at the work session stands," Speidel said after Ariss' remarks. "I do not think Deerfield is getting as good of a return on their money as we should."

The levy, which is going to be on the November ballot, will generate a little more than $2 million a year for the township post of the Warren County Sheriff's Office. The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home a total of about $76 a year - a modest increase over what residents are paying, township officials say.

The current 2.5-mill levy was passed in 1997 and generates about $1.4 million a year. The proposed levy is for the same amount, but because of increased property values it will generate more revenue.

The Deerfield post of 23 officers provides law enforcement for the township, which does not have its own police department. Ariss said about 40 percent of the sheriff's office calls come out of Deerfield Township.

Another 30 deputies staff the rest of the county.

Trustees Randy Kuvin and Barbara Wilkens Reed disagreed with Speidel, saying they were pleased with the service township residents were getting.

Speaking to Speidel directly, Ariss said, "When you slam the Warren County Sheriff's Office, you're slamming all of us." Speidel said it wasn't a slam, but only a raising of some concerns about the tax increase.

Ariss countered: "It wasn't a kiss."

He added that he took it personally when Speidel continued to mispronounce his name, correcting him by saying it was "Ariss" not "Air-ass."


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