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Perry Township trustees waiting to add another officer

PERRY TOWNSHIP–Township trustees this week tabled discussion of adding a full-time officer to the police department until the finances are stronger.

Police Chief Mike Emigh had suggested hiring a fifth full-time officer earlier this month and again questioned trustees on how they want to proceed. He said he would like to promote a current part-time officer within the department, but has not spoken to any of them because he was unsure what the trustees wanted to do.

The department currently has four full-time and three part-time officers. Emigh said the department is having trouble keeping officers and right now is essentially operating shift-to-shift, with overtime adding up. He also noted this is the season for holidays and vacations, so overtime will continue to increase.

Fiscal Officer Susan Johnston presented trustees with a financial analysis of the department which shows expenses exceeding revenue when using the hourly rates for the current staff plus a fifth full-time officer. She said she figured three part-time officers at approximately 10 hours per week each.

Trustee Jim Armeni said he supports adding a fifth full-time officer, but would rather wait to better determine how to finance it. He noted the township cannot add an expenditure without knowing how to pay for it.

“I don’t want to find ourselves in a corner,” he said.

In other business, the trustees resubmitted the current 1.5-mill police levy to be certified as both a renewal and replacement by the Columbiana County Auditor’s Office. Johnston said the trustees had previously submitted the levy for certification both ways for the March ballot, but that there was an issue with language in the ordinances. The trustee will decide whether to pursue a renewal or a replacement once the information is returned from the auditor’s office.

The trustees also agreed to cancel and reissue a $140,000 purchase order for a truck for the road department, with the cost split between the permissive, motor vehicle and gas taxes.

Also at the meeting, the trustees requested Fire Chief Bruce Whitcher to obtain a new estimate for a JAWS unit for the south station. Whitcher said the current unit has an obsolete part that needs fixed, so he would like to purchase a new battery operated unit. He provided an estimate of $15,000 in April and trustees wanted to make sure the cost is not significantly higher before approving the purchase.

The next regular trustees meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at the administration building.

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