The outcome of an 8.8-mill levy to support the Mifflin Township Police Department could determine whether the police force continues to serve residents in the unincorporated areas of the township or is completely disbanded.

The outcome of an 8.8-mill levy to support the Mifflin Township Police Department could determine whether the police force continues to serve residents in the unincorporated areas of the township or is completely disbanded.

Mifflin trustees approved a resolution July 20 to place the levy on the Nov. 2 ballot. Only those residents in the unincorporated areas of the township, which includes pockets around Gahanna and the east side of Columbus, will vote on the levy.

Police Chief Michael Pocock said the levy, which the Franklin County Auditor's Office estimates would generate $393,024 annually, would enable the department to maintain and improve its current level of service. The revenue would be used to hire and train officers, maintain the department's vehicles and office building and "provide a small salary increase for most officers, but not all of them," Pocock said, adding that it also would cover insurance premiums, gasoline "and all those fixed costs that we can't control."

Pocock, who has been police chief since 2005, also warned that the levy's failure could lead to "a downward slope" toward the elimination of the police department, in which case law enforcement in the township likely would be handled by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The township police force consists of five full-time officers, including Pocock, six part-time officers and 10 reserve unpaid officers. The department receives $439,508 annually in levy revenue.

The department has struggled with finances in recent years, Pocock said, adding that he can pay his part-time officers only $8.06 an hour.

"My babysitter makes more than that," he said. "I can't put an officer out on the street with no benefits."

The levy would cost about $270 more annually for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Trustee Dick Angelou said the levy's approval would allow for long-term planning for the police department's future needs.

In May, township residents rejected by 19 votes a levy that would have replaced two separate levies and generated about $235,000 annually for the police department.

Pocock said he is "cautiously optimistic" that residents would see the benefit of having their own police department and approve the November levy.

He is planning to conduct outreach events in various township neighborhoods to meet with residents and discuss the police levy. Any resident who wants more information may contact Pocock through the township website at www.miftwp.org or by calling the police department at 471-3548.

The trustees will hold a staff meeting at 10 a.m. Aug. 2 and their next regular meeting at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 17 in the township hall at 155 Olde Ridenour Road.