Contract reached with sheriff's department for patrol service in 2021

Ken Lahmers, Correspondent
Kent Weeklies

NORTHFIELD CENTER – After months of talks, the township has a new contract in place, which will allow the Summit County Sheriff’s Department to continue providing patrol service for at least the next year, or possibly two.

Trustees OK’d the contract for 2021, with the possibility of renewing it for 2022, at their Dec. 7 meeting. The cost will be $800,275, which is less than the $824,119 figure that Township Administrator Helen Humphrys said is in effect for 2020. If renewed for 2022, the cost will be $823,221.

“It is anticipated to save our residents up to $246,640 over the next two years vs. our current contract terms,” said Trustee Russ Mazzola. “It continues our current 24/7/365 coverage, with the ability to add coverage if trustees feel it is needed based on recommendations from the trustees and the sheriff’s office.

“This model allows us to be more flexible, with targeted coverage times across the township where it is most appropriate.”

The contract calls for 5,046 deputy/sergeant hours per six months to be devoted to patrolling the township around the clock.

In addition to salaries, the cost also includes cameras, vehicles, equipment, one supervisor for 24 hours/ seven days a week, and dispatch service. It doesn’t include costs for overtime or court appearances. A minimum block of 300 overtime hours can be added if needed at a rate of $80.19 per hour.

The pact can be adjusted if a new union bargaining agreement goes into effect, and a surcharge can be collected if fuel and/or insurance costs rise.

Former Township Administrator Steve Wright had said earlier this year that three levies bring in $849,136 per year for township policing services.

“The contract is within the parameters of our police levies,” said Mazzola. “I’d like to commend the sheriff, our safety committee and all who had a part in negotiating this contract.” Added Trustee Paul Buescher, “I feel comfortable with this; it’s something we can live with.”

OTHER BUSINESS

Zoning text amendments were approved. One clarifies the definition of “front of building,” and one specifies that refundable performance bonds shall be paid by the property owner.

Other changes include that the height of most accessory buildings and structures of 1,000-plus square feet cannot exceed 15 feet, while the height of those structures on lots of one or more acres cannot exceed 18 feet.

Trustees waived permit fees for CVS/Pharmacy to install a COVID-19 testing kiosk outside its store at 9302 Olde Eight Road, and OK’d the Summit County Solid Waste Management Plan (ReWorks).

Revisions to the township’s cell phone policy were approved. They will allow trustees, the administrator, fiscal officer, zoning inspector and all full-time employees to be reimbursed $15 for use of their personal cell phones for township business.

Township cell phones will no longer be assigned to township employees, except for two of them and two computer tablets for use in ambulances.

It was decided that Township Hall will continue to be closed to the public during the COVID-19 crisis, and that the building will be open to staff members Monday to Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Meetings of trustees and other boards will continue to be held online.

Trustees likely soon will consider a resolution to have the service department remove dead trees at a private residence on Skyland Drive because they are causing a safety hazard to passing motorists and pedestrians. Trustees said the property owner has refused to remove them.

Trustee Rich Reville said the township wants to consult with its legal counsel before action is taken. If the township removes the trees, the cost will be assessed to the property owner’s tax duplicate.

With regard to mounting COVID-19 cases in Summit County, Mazzola made a plea to residents to follow public health protocols, practice social distancing, limit gatherings and not venture out unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Contact the newspaper at 330-541-9430, or newsleader@recordpub.com