Blendon passes police levy renewal

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In a close contest, Blendon Township residents voted Tuesday to renew and increase the Blendon Township police levy.

According to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections, the levy passed with 573 votes for the tax to 483 against it, or 54.3 to 45.7 percent.

The levy was the first on the ballot since 2011 for the police department, and the township has a history of passing the levies requested by the police.

“I’ve been here since 1984, and every single police levy has passed since then,” Police Chief John Belford said in April. “The community provides unbelievable support.”

Those results, township Trustee Stewart Flaherty said, come from residents seeing the police department’s work with what they already have.

“It is very definitely that the results are on the street,” Flaherty said. “They see the results daily, in the quick results time, the responsiveness of the officers, it all adds up to helping the people feel safer, and that’s important. That doesn’t go away with time.”

Passage of the levy renewed the department’s 2.5-mill levy from 2009 for five more years, adding an additional 2 mills, representing more than 40 percent of the department’s operating budget. The cost to residents will be $137.81 per $100,000 of property value annually.

Residents currently pay $76.56, so the increase adds $61.25 per year, Belford said.

In part because of the township’s voting history, Flaherty said he was “hopeful” that the levy would pass once again.

“We felt that it would pass because we have always stretched the budgets as far as we could,” he said. “[The police] have delivered a good, but not extravagant service. We felt that because the numbers were real and were justified, that the citizens would decide that they wanted to continue those services.”

Belford said the levy will help pay for increases in spending that included rising salaries, health-care costs, workers’ compensation and other “necessary” spending.

Without passage, Belford said the department would not have been able to continue doing “things that other departments don’t do,” such as responding to lockouts, barking dog complaints and other smaller tasks.

And that level of service, Flaherty said, is paramount to the community.

“With all the problems that the larger central Ohio community as a whole faces,” Flaherty said, “like the influx of heroin and different crime and threats that communities face, I think people want to have a very strong police force.”

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