The trustees of Jerome and Millcreek townships voted on Monday, Nov. 21, to place a 1.1 mill levy on the ballot in March to continue the Public Safety Officer arrangement they currently have with the Union County Sheriff's Office.

The trustees of Jerome and Millcreek townships voted on Monday, Nov. 21, to place a 1.1 mill levy on the ballot in March to continue the Public Safety Officer arrangement they currently have with the Union County Sheriff's Office.

The 1.1 mill levy - which would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $38.50 a month in taxes - is a replacement rather than a renewal levy. The previous levy was 1.2 mills.

Union County Sheriff Jamie Patton spoke to both boards of trustees on Monday and gave them projections for the cost of the program over the next five years. The OPS program is fully funded through 2012.

The costs of the program are split between Jerome, which pays 75 percent of the bill, and the smaller Millcreek, which pays 25 percent. Patton said Jerome Township could expect to pay slightly more than $1 million and Millcreek $357,580 from 2013 through 2017.

"There are a lot of variables when we project these costs, so we like to plan for the worst case scenario rather than the lower end of the spectrum," Patton said. "It tends to be much more pleasing for all involved when we don't have to go back to the voters and ask for more money. That's when people tend to get upset."

Union County adds value to the OPS program by cross-training its deputies, Patton said.

"All of our deputies are trained firefighters and EMTs in addition to being trained safety officers," he said. "And we (the county) provide the officers with an SUV and all the equipment they need to perform their jobs. So, it's a good deal for the townships."

Jerome Township trustee Bob Merkle said he was encouraged by the success in the November elections of several health and safety levies.

"If you look at Union County, the 911 levy passed, the developmental disabilities levy passed, the health department passed," he said. "All three were renewals, not increases. I think that made a big difference. The levies that went down were significant tax increases. And I do feel in Jerome and in Millcreek the residents really do value the deputies."

Said Patton: "I hope that when the voters see us coming in at 1.1, down from 1.2 they'll understand that we're being fiscally responsible in these very trying times."