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Washingtonville officials say recent incidents point to need for levy

WASHINGTONVILLE– A couple incidents handled by the police department the past two weeks is an example of why the department is worth an investment, according to village council members.

Council President Ron Stevens and Councilman Herman Frank III Monday night praised the department for its hard work and production despite budget constraints. They said the incidents demonstrate why the department is necessary and why council is asking for additional tax dollars to fund it.

Stevens cited specifically two incidents in the past two weeks in which officers with the department initiated a traffic stop of a motorist traveling over 90 miles an hour through the village and found him to be a sex offender with juveniles in the vehicle; and another traffic stop in which two unlicensed firearms were recovered. Stevens also noted citations have increased and the village does not have a problem with break-ins, due the officers making their presence known.

“I don’t ever want to lose our department,” Stevens said. “We have a great police force that is doing the best they can with what [money] we have.

“Imagine if we had more money,” he added, agreeing with Mayor Herman Frank that just being able to add more hours for officers would help prevent violators from putting citizens in danger.

A 2.5-mill police levy finished tied in November, failing for a lack of a majority. It was one of three failed 2.5-mill levies that would have each generated $18,300 annually over five years, the other two being for road maintenance and general operations.

After residents rejected the levies, council reimposed a .5 percent earned income tax that residents had repealed on a previous ballot.

In other business, Village Solictor Jeffrey Heintz reported he is working on a contract for a substitute operator for the water department and drafting a property maintenance code for council to consider.

Mayor Frank said the goal of the maintenance code is to have property owners clean up their property, not to make money. He asked Heintz to make sure the code has some “bite” to it.

Heintz said he is investigating whether property owners can be cited directly into municipal court instead of mayor’s court and if fines can be assessed to real estate taxes. He said council could also hire a contractor to clean up properties of those who fail to comply and assess that cost to the real estate taxes, as well. He noted, however, that council will have to commit money upfront for costs such as the contractor and inspections to be able to enforce the code, then wait for the taxes to be paid.

“We have no other choice, as I see it,” Stevens said.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at village hall.

khowell@salemnews.net

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