Village of West Alexandria considering reducing police budget


Department faces cuts of more than $50k

By Anthony Baker - abaker@aimmediamidwest.com



West Alexandria council discussed possible budget cuts to the village police department during a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 19.

West Alexandria council discussed possible budget cuts to the village police department during a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 19.


Anthony Baker | The Register-Herald

WEST ALEXANDRIA — Council discussed possible budget cuts to the village police department during a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 19.

Fiscal Officer Shaylie Werner and Village Administrator Adam Beneke delivered a proposed 2021 budget for the department of $220,000 – a drastic reduction from its current $272,000.

Chief Tony Gasper adamantly opposed the cuts, saying he was already being forced to “move money around” to cover wages, and adding that the department only employs two full-time officers, including himself. Gasper stated that even a 10 percent cut would leave him unable to provide coverage for the department’s night shift, which runs from 12-8 a.m. A $52,000 cut would leave him unable to provide weekend coverage as well.

Councilman Zach Shafer also opposed the reduction, saying that a cut of over $50,000 was “unacceptable.”

“I really am having a hard time swallowing that pill,” Shafer said.

Shafer suggested making cuts in other areas, including the $31,000 per year the village pays to the Columbus-based firm which provides its legal representation.

“That’s way too much for a municipality of our size to be spending on an attorney,” Shafer said, stating that villages of similar size in the county only spend $12 or $13,000.

Council members Ashley Myers and Holly Robbins suggested cutting the department’s second full-time officer back to part-time to “get rid of some benefits.” Mayor Jeff Hickey was not in favor of this, however.

“If a person can’t provide for his family, including health insurance, he may find another way to make a living,” Hickey said.

Gasper expressed similar sentiments.

“My budget was more than $220,000 when I started in 2004,” Gasper said. “That’s 16 years ago.”

Council also suggested getting rid of one of the department’s police cars, a measure also not favored by Gasper.

“We’ve been down to one car before, and it makes me nervous,” he said.

Shafer asked the chief to provide a “livable number” that would enable the department to maintain its current coverage.

“2021 is going to be a hard year to navigate for everybody,” Shafer said, citing looming income tax revenue reductions due to business closures and unemployment caused by COVID-19. “We need more funding to maintain the police department.”

Shafer and councilman Dan Utsinger suggested putting a levy on the ballot in March that would provide additional police funding.

“The voice of the people is very loud on this,” Shafer said. Myers opposed this, however, saying a levy would “hurt the bottom line” of those on a fixed income.

Council will hold another special meeting Monday, Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. to further discuss the budget issue.

West Alexandria council discussed possible budget cuts to the village police department during a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 19.
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2020/11/web1_West-Alex-Police.jpgWest Alexandria council discussed possible budget cuts to the village police department during a special meeting held Thursday, Nov. 19. Anthony Baker | The Register-Herald
Department faces cuts of more than $50k

By Anthony Baker

abaker@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish

Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish