HUBBARD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – As we get closer to the end of the year, residents in Hubbard Township could be getting closer to seeing their police department disband.
A police levy passed by voters this May to keep the department might ultimately be too little, too late.
At a meeting Monday night, township trustees had to face some irate taxpayers and police officers who wanted to address the issue. They even lined up in the rain an hour before the meeting started in order to get in.
It took a few items on the agenda before the discussion turned to the elephant in the room — the police department.
Concerned resident 1: “What cuts have you made this year? What are the total dollar amounts?”
Trustee Fred Hanley: “I cannot give you a dollar amount, sir.”
Concerned resident 1: “Well, how can you say that?”
Hanley: “I just did.”
Concerned resident 2: “So how do you know we’re out of money if you don’t know what we owe?”
Concerned resident 1: “If you don’t know how much you cut, how do you know where to save?”
Hanley: “OK, this discussion is going downhill.”
Hanley, along with trustees Thomas Jacobs and Richard Hernandez, debated the issue.
A lack of revenue, a dwindling tax base and an impasse in negotiations with the police union have all been cited as reasons why the township has resorted to possibly disbanding the police department.
“This department was set up years ago with a population count of over 7,200 people. Today, we’ve experienced a loss of 2,000 residents. The property taxes are not coming in,” Hernandez said.
As expected, residents were not pleased to hear that there is no money or contract to keep the department in place, especially since the police levy passed.
“You are going to the surmising fact that OK, we don’t have any money. OK, so we don’t have any money. I don’t care what you gotta do, declare a fiscal emergency, but I don’t want to see this police department go away. None of these township residents do. OK? We voted for the Hubbard Township levy, for the police department,” said a concerned resident.
The police department’s contract expires on Dec. 31. As a backup plan, the township may turn to the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office for police protection come Jan. 1.
The next public meeting with trustees is this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Hubbard Township Hall.