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They disagree on a fee after getting it free

Granville village officials vexed with county’s law enforcement proposal and taxation error

GRANVILLE — Putnam County’s financial woes didn’t escape the attention of the Granville Village Board as members discussed the county’s proposal to enter into a contract for dispatching and other law enforcement services.

During the June 5 meeting the board, village attorney Brad Popurella and Police Chief Kevin Moore discussed the proposal and the funds already provided to the county.

The proposal would charge increasing amounts over five years, beginning with approximately $5,500 this year and ending with roughly $8,300 the final year.

Included are dispatching; fingerprint and booking services, intoxilyzer, radio frequency, radio tower, records management data, and access to the Law Enforcement Automated Data System (LEADS). Moore said the village already has access to LEADS in the village’s police cars.

Entering into a similar agreement with the Illinois Valley Regional Dispatching Center was discussed, but board member Jim Petit said it was off the table and would never happen. That agreement would have cost roughly the same as the final year of the county’s proposal with an additional upfront equipment cost of up to $15,000.

Moore and Petit both said the village provides 12.9 percent of its property tax revenues to the county, a figure that Moore said amounts to approximately $130,000 a year. Additionally, he said residents are already paying a tax for 911 services.

“We’ve already helped pay for the 911 center and the equipment in it, and we also help pay for their dispatcher and deputy salaries. How much more of Granville’s tax dollars need to go down to support that courthouse and the services coming out of it? I don’t agree with this contract,” Moore told the board.

Moore continued, saying although the county has seen a decrease in both population and revenue, the county has not only increased its amount of deputies, but given them and the dispatchers pay raises.

“The county knew for some time they were depleting their financial reserves, but when a deputy left during that time, they chose to hire another officer instead of saving the money,” Moore said.

However, information provided afterward by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office regarding the staffing levels and officer and dispatcher salaries of other area departments shows the sheriff’s department is well below the average for both.

The Putnam County Board has previously approved an interfund loan because of the state’s change to the amount of the expected Personal Property Replacement Tax revenue after the county’s budget had already been passed. Additionally, the county’s financial reserves were largely depleted over the past several years because of a lengthy lawsuit, major projects at the courthouse, and the loss of industrial revenue.

At the time of the interfund loan, the courthouse hours were reduced, and board members waived their mileage reimbursements to help reduce costs. Petit acknowledged those changes, but said he knew of no other steps that had been taken.

“Before I would agree to anything given to them, I’d like to see some sort of guidelines of what they’re going to do to cut costs, not just to say, ‘We need more money.’ Cut some costs. We did that here for how many years because we didn’t have the money. Now, we’re not great, but we’re doing good,” he said.

Board member Jeff Greathouse asked whether this proposal was raised before the county announced its financial difficulties, or afterward in an attempt to recoup lost revenue.

“They called us after,” Village President Jared Baker said.

Board member Bob Bruch said if the county wants to charge for dispatching services, they should attempt to pass a referendum that would spread the costs evenly throughout the county rather than just impacting villages.

After tabling the issue, the board agreed to invite Putnam County Board Chairman Steve Malavolti and any other interested parties to speak about the proposal during the village’s next meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. on June 19.

According to the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office, the village of Mark agreed to the contract, and McNabb and other villages are expected to approve it within the coming weeks.

Granville, along with other villages in the county, had a consolidation opportunity approximately 10 years ago to enter into an agreement in which the county would provide police services with costs based on population.

Hennepin took advantage of the offer and pays $1,100 a month for full police services. For that $13,200 a year, the village is no longer responsible for the costs of salaries, vehicles, training, building expenses, pensions or other associated costs. Hennepin is home to about 700 residents, and Granville’s population is about 1,300.

According to the Granville Village Hall, the Granville Police Department is comprised of three full-time officers, including the chief, and five part-time officers. Moore said at the meeting it’s a low-crime area and added there are days when he doesn’t handle a single call.

The county’s taxation error

The other county issue that rankled the village board was Popurella’s announcement of a tax levy error made by the Putnam County Clerk’s Office.

“The county’s tax bills are out, but they were sent without our bond levy on them. This means we aren’t going to get the approximately $55,000 we’re supposed to get, and this was due to computation issues by the county clerk. We have a debt obligation later this year, and we have to make our payments,” he said.

The county is taking responsibility for any costs, and although the problem originated in the clerk’s office, Popurella said the Putnam County Treasurer’s Office will be the entity helping to resolve the issue. A revised second installment bill will be sent to Granville residents that will include the entire levy amount.

Popurella added that the issue is still being dealt with, and as long as it’s resolved through the revised bills, the money will be there for the village’s financial obligations.

“Hopefully this will be resolved, but if not, we could take the money out of our General Fund, but I’d rather not have to do that,” Petit said.

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