Friday, June 08, 2001

New Miami council under attack over police levy

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        NEW MIAMI — Village residents will decide in November whether they want to pay more to keep and expand the police department.

        After a contentious, emotional meeting Thursday, Village Council agreed to place a 10-mill police levy on the ballot. The levy, if approved, would expand the department — which now consists of the full-time acting chief and eight part-time, volunteer auxiliary officers.

        Council had discussed disbanding the department and contracting with the Butler County Sheriff's Office for police coverage. New Miami's population is about 2,500.

        An existing 1-mill police levy would be repealed if the new issue passes. If passed, the new police levy would allow the village to pay the auxiliary officers and hire at least one more full-time officer.

        Still, many residents at the packed meeting — most of whom support a local police department — were bitter because they wanted council to place a 5-mill levy on the ballot.

        They contend council went against the wishes of the community with the higher issue.

        “It's not going to pass, and I know that,” said Denise Newton, a lifelong New Miami resident. “Then they can get the sheriff's office in here, and that's what they want.”

        Jerry Murray, who has lived here just over two years, held petitions signed by hundreds of residents supporting the 5-mill levy.

        “They threw the 10-mill out because they know nobody in this community wants that big of an increase,” Mr. Murray said.

        Vice Mayor Edith Cook said a 5-mill issue wouldn't generate enough revenue to expand the department.

        “If you're going to have a police department, then go all the way,” she said. “To me, 10-mill, that's what to go for.”

        Councilman Paul Newton, the lone “no” vote, said he is against higher taxes.

        Residents say having their own department brings safety and peace of mind. They also like having officers who know the community.


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