It is hard not to be a cynic in this job, and Monday’s Butler Township meeting was a prime example why.
When I see what happens in Columbus and Washington, DC, I shouldn’t be surprised when I see politicians act out of unknown motives in direct opposition to their constituents. But even I was surprised by the deceitful act by the Butler Township Trustees
In case you missed it, the Trustees voted 2-1 to negotiate a contract with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to provide police services – in other words, they voted to disband their own police department, and they did it by slipping a resolution onto the agenda without the public’s knowledge or opportunity to speak.
That move isn’t totally surprising – Trustees Nick Brusky and Joe Flanagan have been hell bent on accomplishing this since January.
Former Chief of Police John Cresie predicted it when he retired earlier this year rather than face the prospect of being fired because he was opposed to the move.
It’s no secret that this was the direction things were moving.
I think the move is ill-advised, especially considering the savings are projected at just under $27,000 per year – a drop in the bucket compared to the $400,000 the Township currently spends out of its general fund to subsidize the police department.
Moving to the Sheriff’s Office won’t do anything to keep a police levy off the ballot in the near future – something all three Trustees agreed on.
I’m also opposed because the proposal favored by the Trustees means Butler Township will share command staff, including a captain and sergeants, with Harrison Township. Given the much higher crime rate in Harrison Township, it isn’t much of a leap to assume leadership will spend more time and focus on issues outside of Butler Township.
Finally, I’m opposed because Butler Township taxpayers will essentially be subsidizing a portion of the cost for the command staff, sergeants, an administrative assistant, and three Community Oriented Policing (COP) deputies for Harrison Township. Chief Deputy Rob Streck admitted as much during Monday’s meeting saying Harrison Township would “see savings” because of the shared resources.
More than anything, I’m disgusted with the manner in which this vote took place. It wasn’t on the agenda, nor was it added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
In fact, unless you received the meeting packet, which included the proposals and the acting administrator’s report, one wouldn’t even know the matter was going to be discussed.
The proposals wouldn’t have been discussed in public at all if I hadn’t pressed Trustees President Mike Lang that the proposals could not be discussed in executive session under Ohio’s Sunshine Laws – a contention that the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office agreed with.
Even worse, public comment on the vote wasn’t allowed – at least until after the vote when it was meaningless.
Butler Township has been subjected to unnecessary upheaval at the hands of Brusky and Flanagan since the beginning of the year, but even I had some semblance of trust left that at the end of the day a decision of this magnitude would be left to the voters.
Clearly I was giving them too much credit.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.