CRAWFORD COUNTY — Crawford County voters are being asked to once again renew the Crawford County Criminal Justice levy. This is a 2.75 mill property tax levy which was originally passed in 2010. It has been renewed and is put before voters every five years.
Crawford County Sheriff Scott Kent pointed out that this levy is a renewal and not at additional tax. In an interview this week, he explained to residents that this levy is for his law enforcement budget.
Kent said the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office operates on two budgets — an enforcement budget and a jail budget — and he doesn’t want voters to be confused between the two. Voters passed a sales tax levy last year for the jail budget…not the enforcement budget. .
“Those funds cannot transfer over to the other,” Kent stated.
“The enforcement part of our services is the most visible side,” he said. “The levy raises about $1.5 million a year and our enforcement budget is $2.2 million, so that levy money is a big part of our budget. It’s not going to make the budget any bigger than it is, it’s going to allow us to provide the amount of service today and we’ll be able to provide those services tomorrow.”
The enforcement budget, Kent said, covers many aspects of the daily and ongoing operations of the sheriff’s office.
Some of those include calls which come into dispatch, which he said numbered around 55,000 in 2018.
“We dispatch emergencies for 10 township fire departments, Bucyrus City Fire Department, Portsmouth Ambulance, New Washington Police Department, enforcement and the jail at the sheriff’s office, Emergency Management Agency and the dog warden,” he added. “And all the wireless 9-1-1 calls and rural 9-1-1 calls come into our dispatch center.”
Arrest warrants are all held by the sheriff’s office and they also process subpoenas, evictions, protection and court orders and hold sheriff’s sales.
“Our road patrols cover all of Crawford County. That includes 402 square miles,” Kent said. “And we only have two deputies on duty during the night shift. If the levy passes I would like to see us fill some empty spots we’re going to have because of retirements and people who left, and I’d also like to see more deputies on duty for the night shift.”
Salaries also come out of the enforcement budget, as well as cruisers.
“We still have cruisers in the fleet with over 200,000 miles on them,” he said. “We try to replace three cruisers a year. They must be in good working condition for high speeds and to respond to calls. These vehicle get a lot of hard use.
“Some unfunded mandates that have come down are that each dispatcher has to take 9-1-1 call and also emergency medical dispatch training,” Kent said. “We have a total of 10 dispatchers. That training costs a little over $500 each to get certified initially and then they have to be re-certified every two years.”
Kent said the sheriff’s office also assists surrounding communities if needed, pointing out Bucyrus had four murders five years ago and the sheriff’s office assisted with two of those investigations.
Giving an idea of how much homeowners would continue to pay for the levy if renewed, Kent said a $50,000 property value would equal around $38 a year; a $100,000 property value would be $75 a year; and a property value worth $150,000 would be $114 a year.
“Again, this is a renewal. We are not asking for new money,” Kent stated.
He said if the levy fails in Nov. 5, the sheriff’s office would still continue to serve the community, but with this funding, drastic adjustments would have to be made.
“Cuts would have to be made and layoffs will likely occur,” he said. “Calls for service will have to be prioritized and the most serious calls will be answered first while less serious calls will have to wait. Layoffs could occur which creates officer safety issues.”
He also noted that if the levy were to not pass, they would more than likely put it back on the ballot next year as the funding from the levy is integral to the enforcement budget.