By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP — Mad River Township trustees are facing the reality that the township will be losing Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Wise at the end of the year.
The deputy’s position, which trustees said plays an integral role in providing police protection to township residents, will no longer exist following the defeat of the 0.8-mill replacement police services levy during the Nov. 8 election. During the Monday, Nov. 21 township meeting, trustees expressed their disappointment with the ballot results and praised Wise for his outstanding service.
“We sincerely thank voters for passing our fire and EMS levies. However, we are very sad that they didn’t agree with us and pass our replacement police levy. Needless to say, we were shocked that it wasn’t approved,” Mad River Township Trustee Kathy Estep said. “Deputy Wise knows the area very well and has done an excellent job of protecting and serving our residents. He has been a great asset to us.”
Estep stated that Wise would return to the Clark County Sheriff’s Department for reassignment as of Jan. 1, 2017, leaving township residents without a deputy permanently assigned to their community.
“The trustees have never heard one bad thing about our deputy,” said Estep. “Jeff has done such a good job using his knowledge and great ability to rectify numerous issues over the years.”
According to Estep, the township may place the proposal on the ballot again in May but she noted that no definite decision has been made.
“We have to examine our options, and we would like to get some feedback from township residents before we move forward with another police levy,” Estep noted.
Ballot Issue #13, which failed by 166 votes, asked township voters to approve the replacement of a five-year, 0.5-mill existing police levy with a 0.3-mill increase to provide for and maintain the deputy’s annual salary, the township police cruiser, police communications, and other equipment used directly in the operation of a police department. The 0.8-mill replacement levy would have generated $142,115 annually and would have cost the owner of a home with a $100,000 tax accessed value an annual tax increase of $10.50. According to the Clark County Auditor’s Office, the tax accessed value is currently based on 35 percent of a home’s actual value.
Estep explained again that the expiring police services levy generates approximately $80,000 annually and did not completely compensate for the 2016 law enforcement contract with the Clark County Sheriff’s Department. That contract, which provides a deputy who is permanently assigned to patrol and protect the entire township, amounted to $92,423, which reflected a $3,083 increase in contractual costs in one year. Those annual costs would have also continued to climb through 2018 to compensate for a 2 percent annual wage increase for deputies, nurses and dispatchers employed by the sheriff’s department.
“We had to take a serious look at what lies ahead for us in the next five years and compensate for the increases in contract costs, the wear and tear on the deputy’s vehicle, and other operating expenses,” Estep said. “We thought the proposed increase in millage was very conservative.”
Township Trustees Robert McClure Jr. and Joe Catanzaro also expressed their dismay with the election results and the imminent transfer of Wise.
“I am very saddened by this. We have had about four township deputies over the years, but Jeff brought something very special to the position,” McClure said. “We are truly losing one of our best public servants.”
“When Jeff is on duty, he always answered a call promptly and is quick on the scene. He has risked his life and has done a remarkable job for this community. We will surely miss him,” said Catanzaro.
Starting the first of the new year, Mad River Township will fall under the protection of the Clark County sheriff’s deputies who patrol the areas in the county that are without a police department or a sheriff’s deputy delegated to the community.
Wise, a lifelong resident of the township who became a township deputy in July 2012, expressed his gratitude to township trustees for their never-ending support and countless praises. According to the deputy, he will be transferred to an open position, which will likely be in the county jail system.
“I am not a part of the uniform patrol division that patrols the areas of the county that do not have a local police force. Also, I have no guarantees that I would be assigned to the township again if the police levy was to pass in the future. In that case, the sheriff’s department would repost the township deputy position, and any deputy in the department with seniority would have precedence over me,” Wise explained.
The Mad River Township Trustees will hold a special recognition ceremony for Wise during one of the regular township sessions in December, according to Estep.
“We want to give Jeff a proper sendoff because we have certainly appreciated all he has done for us,” Estep said.
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.