Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Police ask voters for raise

Fast-growing West Chester Township has 2 levies

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Population here has jumped 54 percent in the last decade, but it's been seven years since residents have been asked to pay more for a police department increasingly strained by boom times.

        On May 8 township residents will decide two police levies — a 4.5-mill property tax renewal and a new 2.5-mill tax — both designed to allow the West Chester police to keep pace with the Butler County community's rapid growth.

        The 4.5-mill police levy was approved by voters in 1994; and what was intended to be a five-year levy has now been stretched into seven years, said Acting Police Chief John Bruce.

        “You know we will continue to grow ... and it's critical at this point because we've gone as long as we could on the current funding,” Chief Bruce said.

        Moreover, the increasingly expensive nature of sophisticated policing has cut deeply into the police operational budget, he said.

        The police department's spending for 2000 was more than $6.4 million and is projected to be $6.9 million in 2001.

        Almost half the depart ment's 21 police cruisers have logged more than 100,000 miles and should be replaced, Chief Bruce said. But the cost of such cruisers has jumped since 1994 from about $15,000 to almost $35,000 when on-board computers and emergency features and lights are included.

        The township's population — now estimated at more than 61,000 — is among the highest for townships in Ohio.

        Robert Keith is a 72-year-old resident of West Chester who appreciates the township's law enforcement efforts.

        “As far as I'm concerned the police protection has been really good,” said Mr. Keith.


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