HUBBARD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Trustees in Hubbard Township have decided to save the police department.
It was standing room only at Tuesday night’s meeting, with people overflowing into the hallway.
Trustees rejected a 30-page fact-finder’s report, which looked at issues regarding a new collective bargaining agreement between the township and police department.
While the fact-finder touched on the financial issues facing the police department, it did not make a recommendation on whether to keep it. Trustees unanimously rejected the report, however, so they could continue talks about keeping the police department operating. If they had accepted the report, there was a chance the department would go away, they said.
Trustees said they will continue looking at all options. They think it’s in the community’s best interest to keep the police department running.
The fact-finder’s report suggested adopting a short-term agreement due to the township’s financial woes in order to give the township a chance to reevaluate. The fact-finder also recommended a wage freeze in 2020 and no uniform allowance.
The fact-finder reported that revenues generated $972,481 for the Police District Fund in 2018, while the department’s expenditures were $1,105,149. The deficit was covered by the Police District Carryover Reserve Balance, which had a balance of $287,917 at the beginning of 2018.
In addition, a police levy was turned down by voters in November of 2018.
The township obtained a $200,00 loan to cover payroll, and the township then cut expenses, overtime and other police-related expenses. Township residents then approved two property tax levies to generate an additional $156,000 for the police department in 2020.
The fact-finder found that while that money addresses prior deficits, the township is concerned about future expenses, including replacing its radio system and police cruisers.
Township officials have said Hubbard is running out of money. They said even with levy dollars, it won’t be enough to keep the police department going.
“I want to keep the Hubbard Township police and I don’t want to go with the sheriff’s, that’s my personal opinion,” Trustee Thomas Jacobs said. “Now we are going to keep them, but we have to be fiscally responsible like we talked about. You have fiscal responsibility. We have to be able to pay for it.”
Community members agreed with trustees on keeping the department, but argued they’d like to see more transparency from the trustees in their decision-making.
“You heard the community and what they want,” one person said. “I hope you follow that directive and it appears you’re going to. So all I’m saying is we want to work with you to get this and make it better now.”
If you want to look at the fact-finder’s report, you can see it below:
Editor’s note: This story has been clarified to show the fact-finder’s report didn’t make recommendations on whether to close the police department, although the fact-finder noted financial issues facing the department.