Pataskala City Council on Nov. 21 voted 4-1 on a reallocation of the city's income-tax revenue, which included cutting the police department's share to 25 percent for 2012.

Pataskala City Council on Nov. 21 voted 4-1 on a reallocation of the city's income-tax revenue, which included cutting the police department's share to 25 percent for 2012.

In addition, the city will allocate 15 percent of the tax revenue to the street department, 5 percent for debt service and the remaining 55 percent to capital improvements, with the intention of devoting much of it to street repairs.

Council member Bernard Brush cast the dissenting vote. Merissa McKinstry and Bryan Lenzo were absent.

"We're talking about fixing streets," said council member Pat Sagar. "The roads are falling apart."

She said the city applied for grant money to repair Mink Street, Broad Street will be striped and "Havens Corners (Road) is a mess," among other streets in need of repair.

Sagar said the intention was to divert money from the police department temporarily to focus on road repair. She said the reallocation of the city's income-tax revenue might be "a year-to-year thing" allowing the revenue to be channeled to where it's needed.

The income-tax revenue allocation for 2011 was 75 percent for the police department and 25 percent for streets.

"It's still in debate; we have a lot of work to do," Sagar said. "We're trying to figure out the priorities of what the people want. The roads and the police are so important."

Council member Joe Gernert said the move cuts a lot of money from the police budget, although the police fund has a sufficient carryover balance to allow the department to operate for a while.

Mayor Steve Butcher said the current carryover balance is $1.8 million, which was accrued in part because income-tax collections came in higher than expected.

On the decision to reallocate the funds as passed in the ordinance, "I strongly advised and requested that council not go into debt to fund the capital fund, as the debt payment would impact council's ability to manage its funds in 2013-14," Butcher said.

He said grant projects like Mink Road or any others that require a 20-percent match could cause the city to still consider some debt in order to capture major grants.

Brush couldn't be reached for comment by ThisWeek's press time.

Butcher said he believed Brush's reasoning for voting against the measure was that the city should not spend down the police department's carryover balance because it will have to make it up later. He said other council members argued that the city only has so much money coming in, and some projects, like the roads, need immediate attention.

"Additionally, I requested that the police budget be further reduced by only purchasing seven new cruisers instead of 13 cruisers, and that council must recognize that by spending down the carryover in 2012, it's likely that almost 90 percent of the income tax in 2013 will need to go toward police," Butcher said.

The police department's budget proposes the replacement of 13 cruisers.

Gernert said he agrees with staggering the purchases because it would be difficult to budget for replacement of an entire fleet of cruisers at once.

Council member Dan Hayes said the city is using a computer program that tracks the use of cruisers so replacement times can be easily determined.

"We adopted a nationally recognized program to assist us in determining the likely lifespan of our police fleet," he said.

Based upon that program, he said, the fleet is at a point where council must consider purchasing new vehicles.

"Police vehicles are different than the vehicles you and I have for personal use," said Hayes.

They are subject to much heavier use and often idle nonstop while on shift to power their emergency light bars and other safety equipment, he said.

"For instance, while an officer is directing traffic at a malfunctioning street light, the vehicle's (emergency) lights are activated, which, unless the motor is running, would kill the battery," he said.

This results in what Hayes called "phantom mileage," because the engine is idling and experiencing wear and tear even though the cruiser isn't going anywhere.

"Although most of the cruisers in our fleet will be pushing 100,000 miles in 2012, they also have a significant amount of phantom mileage," he said.

Hayes said the city is currently "double-shifting" cruisers, or running each cruiser two shifts per day, which cuts their potential lifespan in half.

"In a perfect world, we could purchase enough cruisers in 2012 to make it so we could single-shift every vehicle," he said.

But since a fully outfitted cruiser costs roughly $35,000, the costs and the benefits must be weighed against each other, he said.

"It's my position that we should replace seven or eight cruisers in 2012," said Hayes. He suggests keeping a handful of the old cruisers so that the vehicles are single-shifted, and buying additional cruisers in 2013.

Butcher said council scheduled a special workshop for budgetary discussions at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5.