BUTLER TWP. – The Butler Township Trustees reversed course on their controversial decision to disband the township’s police department on Monday night.
The trustees voted 2-0 to rescind a resolution that authorized the Township Administrator to negotiate a contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan, who were the proponents of the decision to disband, voted for the resolution to rescind. Trustee Mike Lang was unable to attend the meeting due to a trip out of the country.
There was little discussion on the issue that had brought huge crowds to trustees meetings over the past few months.
The decision to stop negotiations with the Sheriff’s Office hinged on the township’s police levy language passed in 2006 that was for the purpose of “payment for salaries of permanent police personnel.” Unlike other townships in Montgomery County, whose levy language specifically authorized contracted services, Butler Township’s did not which meant that the levy funds, which amount to nearly $900,000 per year, could not be used for a contract.
Brusky said that he respected resident’s wishes but still believed that contracting for police services was the best alternative going forward.
Beth Cooper, a resident in the Turtle Creek neighborhood, disagreed.
“The decision tonight not done out of benevolence for the residents or because of our impassioned pleas,” said Cooper. “It was because of a technicality. We have lost our police chief, officers are looking for other jobs. We have lost trust.”
Cooper called for the trustees to place a ballot issue for home rule on the November ballot – the same home rule issue that failed by an almost 2-1 margin last November. Home rule would allow citizens to initiate referendums to counteract actions by the township trustees.
Brusky, who is in favor of home rule, declined to put the measure up for a vote since Lang, who also supports it, was not present. Flanagan is against placing home rule on the ballot.
Action is expected to be taken at the trustees meeting on July 25 meeting which will meet the deadline of August 6 to get an item on the November ballot.
In other issues, the trustees held a public hearing for the Willowbrook Subdivision Curb, Sidewalk, and Driveway Apron Repair Program and Assessments. The project would replace badly deteriorated curbs and sidewalks in the subdivision near the end of Benchwood Road and assess the cost to property owners.
The estimated cost is $192,580 of which $164,821.61 would be assessed with the township paying the balance. The total project cost, which includes the resurfacing of Sunny Ridge Road North, Sunny Ridge Road South, and Del Ray Dr. is $263,795.66.
No one rose to speak for or against the proposal.
Other measures approved by the trustees were a resolution to repay bonds from the Harson TIF to the General Fund in the amount of $44,213.76; approved a resolution to request the County Engineer’s assistance with the Township Overlay program which will resurface Maxton Road and the south portion of Commerce Center Drive from Benchwood to W. Commerce Lane at an estimated $89,515; and approved a new treasury management agreement with with Fifth Third Bank.
The trustees also chose not to object to a liquor permit for the Valero on Miller Lane due to a change of corporate stock ownership.
Acting Police Chief Rob Streck also announced that police officers will move to 8.5 hour shifts beginning July 17. Officers are currently working 12-hour shifts. Streck said the move will save overtime expense and improve department morale.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.