By Kristin Bednarski
New Richmond Village Council members are investigating alternative forms of police coverage in an attempt to save thousands of dollars by 2015.
Council members discussed several options at their Nov. 13 council meeting.
Councilman Rich Mathews said they have contacted both the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office and the Pierce Township Police Department about police contracts.
“We’re coming up on rough times in the village,” Mathews said.
Mathews said in the past few years they have continued to make cuts and have attempted to become their own township, looked at creating a joint fire district and more to save money.
“November 5 we met with Pierce Township to discuss police coverage for the village,” Mathews said. “We expect to receive a quote on or around Nov. 19.”
Mathews said Mayor Ramona Carr also requested a quote from the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’re waiting on that,” Mathews said.
Mathews said they are looking into the options because of the shrinking funds in the village. He said the closing of Duke Energy’s Beckjord Station in 2015 will dramatically affect the revenue in the already-struggling village.
Police Chief Randy Harvey said he expects both contracts will cost the village more money than what he is operating the police department with now.
“I know there is no way possible the village can afford a sheriff’s contract,” Harvey said. “You can’t draw up a contract for Pierce to come in and New Richmond out.”
Mathews said they know the process will take time, and they are not sure they will go with any of the options.
“This is not something that will happen in the next month,” Mathews said.
Mathews said he doesn’t believe they will make a decision before January, but said they have to begin the investigative process now.
Mathews also suggested postponing the hiring of a part-time clerk and suspending mayor’s court until they know more about the direction they want to go.
Harvey said by postponing to hire a clerk, council is not only preventing mayor’s court money from coming in, but also making his job more difficult.
“You’re really handcuffing me here,” Harvey said.
Harvey said he was hired as a police chief but he acts as a patrol officer, an investigator, a janitor and now a police clerk.
“I can’t leave my desk with all of the calls I get now,” Harvey said.
Harvey said there are also legal obligations the village has when it comes to mayor’s court.
Mayor Ramona Carr agreed, and said they would need to review any legal consequences to ending mayor’s court.
“My suggestion is allow him to hire a mayor’s court clerk,” Carr said.
Carr also said she feels a levy is not out of the question to support safety services.
Council member discussed placing a levy on the November election ballot, but decided against a levy this year.
Councilman Richard Hilt said he still feels they should at least ask voters.
“I think voters should have the opportunity in May to pass that,” Hilt said.
Hilt said he feels contracting out police service would be negative for the village and would compound things even more.
“I don’t think they would think New Richmond is priority,” Hilt said about other officers.
Councilman Paul Vanderbosch said he voted against putting a levy on the ballot this November because he would like to see an earnings tax rather than a property tax.
He said he does believe residents in the village would pass a levy for safety services.
“I am optimistic a safety services levy would pass,” Vanderbosch said.
Councilman Nick Wolf said even if they do pass a safety services levy next year it won’t be enough.
He said beyond that they would have to ask for another levy and then it could be fire and EMS.
“The discussion you’ve just heard is just the beginning,” Wolf said.
Council members did not make a decision about police services Nov. 16, but will be receiving feedback about the contracts in the coming months.