CAMDEN — Camden Village Council discussed the upcoming Preble Shawnee School District levy, received reports from Camden’s police chief and Clerk of Courts, and welcomed a candidate for Preble County Commissioner during its second bi-monthly meeting Thursday, Jan. 16.
Councilman Kelly Doran voiced his belief that council should come out strongly and unanimously in support of the upcoming school district bond issue and income tax levy to be voted on in March.
The five-year, .75-mill income tax levy, according to Preble Shawnee Superintendent Matt Bishop, will fund general operations costs for the school district, as well as allowing renovations to the junior and senior high school building, including the installation of air conditioning. The 3.75-mill, 25-year bond issue, meanwhile, will fund construction of a new PreK-5 building in Camden.
“It means funding our schools at an adequate level, and it means a brand-new, multi-million-dollar building here in town,” Doran said of the proposals. “We need to preserve and protect the buildings and structures in our village, and of course a school is an important component of any community.”
Doran also stressed that the facility would bring new teachers, and thus new taxpayers, income and services, into Camden.
“If anyone on this side of the podium comes out against building a school, I would take a very dim view of that,” Doran said.
Local farmer Rachel Vonderhaar introduced herself as an upcoming candidate for Preble County Commissioner during the public participation portion of Thursday’s meeting. Vonderhaar will be running against sitting commissioner Chris Day, and touted her opposition to last year’s controversial solar energy proposals.
Vonderhaar said it was not enough to merely criticize the work of Preble County’s elected officials.
“I’m one of those people, if I’m going to critique something, then I’m also going to offer my hand in service,” Vonderhaar said.
Councilman Doran indicated that he felt Vonderhaar could do a better job for Camden, and the county, than some previous commissioners.
“All we’ve gotten from one particular individual is the back of his hand, and it’s cost this village millions,” Doran said, citing an incident in which a lucrative sewer contract was awarded to another community. “It’s pretty bad when your commissioner tells you kiss off and says that price trumps economic development.”
Police Chief Matt Spurlock gave council an update on crime statistics in the village over the past year. Police responded to 932 calls during 2019, according to Spurlock, 328 of which resulted in a report being filed.
The most prominent categories of reports included drug-related calls, theft, domestic disturbance, servicing of warrants, and alcohol-related incidents, Spurlock said. Spurlock also stressed that police filed 88 drug reports, down from 114 in 2018.
“I think we’re getting somewhere with it,” Spurlock said of the drug problem. “I think we’re making a name by being aggressive with the K-9 unit, traffic stops and whatnot.”
Camden police made about 900 traffic stops in 2019, according to Spurlock.
“A good 95 percent of drug reports come from our guys being proactive,” Spurlock said. “Stopping cars, talking to people, and getting drugs from them.”
Spurlock further speculated that about three-quarters of those found carrying drugs were not from Camden.
“It’s a combination of training and the guys doing their jobs,” Spurlock said. “They do all the work. I just get to give you the numbers.”
Clerk of Courts Nancy Melton addressed council about payment of fines by village residents, saying that $82,928 in fines had been assessed in 2019, of which approximately $62,000 had been paid.
Melton stressed that many fees are paid after blocks are placed preventing residents from renewing their driver’s license and/or vehicle registration.
“As time goes by and they can’t renew their license or registration, hopefully that’ll trigger them to pay,” Melton said. Under current practice, according to Melton, a citation that goes unpaid for 60 days results in a letter being sent to the party in question; after 90 days, license and registration blocks are put into place.
Melton also told council that she would soon be entering into an agreement with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to more aggressively pursue payment for delinquent citations. Melton initially suggested turning over delinquent accounts to the Ohio AG’s Department of Collections in August 2019.
“They go after everything, and from what I hear it’s not too nice, and it does put some fear in people,” Melton said at that time.
Village Council meets the first and third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Camden Town Hall.