Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Drug unit piles up pledges

Local governments respond to pleas

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Six weeks after commissioners rejected a request for $383,000 to expand the Warren County Drug Task Force, communities are lining up to help.

        Ten of 28 cities, villages and townships have already pledged $68,325 after task force officials called last month for a contribution of $1 per resident from each government to help hire three agents and a secretary and lease an office.

        That seed money is expected to generate another $53,325 because county commissioners have vowed to match all new money raised.

        “Everybody we've gone to has been very, very supportive,” John Burke, director of the drug-busting squad, said Monday.

        “Some of these places don't have a lot of money, but they have given money, and that's really impressive for me.”

        Communities that have pledged or already paid per capita contributions are:

        • Monroe, $241.

        • Union Township, $2,552.

        • Franklin Township, $13,897.

        • South Lebanon, $2,866.

        • Deerfield Township, $20,000.

        • Middletown, $1,716.

        • Mason, $21,097.

        • Waynesville, $2,456.

        • Morrow, $1,500.

        • Salem Township pledged $2,000, below its per capita share of a $3,650.

        In Lebanon, Chief Ken Burns has proposed a $15,000 contribution as part of his 2001 department budget. Lebanon is among eight agencies that has contributed $5,000 a year to the task force since it was established seven years ago.

        Mr. Burke asked commissioners in October to subsidize the task force, saying20 drug tips a week had to go unanswered.

        The task force operates with one full-time employee — the director, Mr. Burke, — on a $98,500 annual budget that comes from a $58,500 federal grant and $40,000 from six cities and townships, the prosecutor's office and the sheriff.

        With no full-time investigators, the task force relies on agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation to provide undercover work.


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