EATON — The Preble County Board of Commissioners met with Sheriff Mike Simpson during a regular meeting on Monday, July 23, to discuss his School Resource Officer (SRO) contracts with three Preble County school districts.
Simpson has contracts to provide SROs for National Trail Local School District, Twin Valley South Local Community Schools, and Preble Shawnee Local School District.
Simpson added, the first district to have its position filled will be National Trail, with Twin Valley South following, and finally he will staff two SRO positions for Preble Shawnee. He clarified, he will staff the positions in the order he received the contracts.
He estimated an expense for each district of $75,000 per officer. National Trail and Twin Valley South have received grant funding to help offset the expense, but Preble Shawnee did not decide on the SRO option in time to qualify for funds. They will be able to apply for the grant in future years.
National Trail received $7,908.01 and Twin Valley South received $6,769.18 through the Drug Use Prevention Grant. This money can only be used for the officers’ salaries when they are teaching in the classroom, according to Simpson.
The approved contracts are all for three years, with the understanding if the school has to terminate the contract, they are then responsible for covering unemployment for their officer, unless Simpson has an open position.
The Sheriff’s Office will only be providing uniforms and cruisers for the officers, with the school districts paying the rest on their own. Simpson estimated a minimal cost to the county, as the PCSO will only be paying for fuel and using already owned uniforms and cruisers. Officers who will become SROs are already employed with the Sheriff’s Office. Simpson estimated a cost to the county of less than $5,000.
“During the times that school is not in session, that deputy will be patrolling the school district or on vacation. We will not back-fill that position. We won’t have overtime issues. If there is a sick day in there, we will back-fill that to make sure there is a deputy in the building, even though they will not be teaching,” he said.
“There are 80 hours of overtime built into the contract to cover the back-filled position on those sick days. We will stress that your vacation times should not be during the school year, they should be during the summer.”
“So the school district is going to be paying for the officer to patrol the school district in the summer?”Commissioner Denise Robertson asked.
“Yes, and it is good, because in my opinion, in order for them to cover the cost of the salary, the taxpayers in the district need to see the officer when school is not in session,” Simpson said.
Simpson expects all four positions to be filled by Oct. 2 of 2018.
In other business, commissioners approved a resolution declaring it necessary to levy a tax in excess of the ten mill limitation: .03 mill for the General Health District. During discussion, Commissioner Chris Day noted, this is the levy the health district recently presented to the board. It is a replacement that will bring in an estimate of $275,580, while the levy it is replacing brought in roughly $91,000.
“People need to realize that this will raise their taxes,” Robertson said.
Day added, “People should read and figure out what they’re voting for, that is their responsibility. The biggest thing they have to understand is that this is their choice. What services do they expect them to provide up there and how important do they find it that the Health Department functions [at the highest level]? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t, because on the other hand, nobody wants to pay more.”
Robertson replied, “Except that, the services they were talking about providing is a duplication of our land bank process, so I just thing they should be able to live within the budget they have now. People at home need to have money at their house to pay their own bills, feed their own families, and keep their family healthy. We should live within our budgets without asking for more.”
“I agree, but I think we need to do a better job about educating people,” Commissioner Rodney Creech said.
The resolution passed 2:1, with Robertson voting against.
The Preble County Commissioners meet every Monday and Wednesday in open session at 9 a.m. in the Commission Chambers in the Preble County Courthouse.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH