Finance director Amanda Jackson provided three options Aug. 17 for Canal Winchester City Council to consider as it contemplates hiring additional Fairfield County Sheriff's Office deputies to patrol the city.
Jackson outlined the options during a council work session and also updated members on the city's relationship with the Madison Township Police Department.
"The question keeps coming up: Can we afford it?" said Jackson, who detailed the costs to hire one or two additional deputies.
Canal Winchester signed a three-year agreement with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office in 2018 to provide police protection for $1.16 million annually.
The contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2021, provides for a full-time sergeant and two deputies covering 24-hour shifts seven days a week and a third deputy to work a shift mutually agreed upon by the mayor and the sheriff.
A full-time dispatcher also is assigned to Canal Winchester.
The first staffing option, according to Jackson, would add one deputy who would work five days a week on a shift determined by the sergeant for $88,000.
The second option would cost $176,000 to add two more deputies who would work different shifts five days a week.
The third option also would cost $176,000 and would add two deputies who would work the same shift seven days a week.
Fairfield County Sheriff's Sgt. Jesse Hendershot told council he prefers the second option.
"If our sheriff is saying that's where they're needed, then it's a no-brainer," councilwoman Jill Amos said. "They're out there and seeing the things we're not."
A 2021 spending plan reviewed by City Council in July included funding for one additional deputy. However, council will not approve next year's budget until November or December.
"There is some opportunity for adjustment to accommodate that second deputy, if we so choose," Jackson said. "As we keep saying (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic), it's fluctuating daily, so we'll keep watching that."
Jackson said council must decide next year if it will renegotiate the contract with Fairfield County, and if so, an additional sergeant may be required, depending on staffing levels, at $105,000 annually.
"I think we would want to extend (the contract) if we're going to bring in one or two deputies," council President Mike Walker said. "Also, we don't know where we stand with Madison Township."
Canal Winchester residents pay approximately $600,000 annually in property taxes to help fund the township's police department, which has 16 full-time officers patrolling 40 square miles.
Although Madison Township police Chief Gary York has said his officers are being more visible in Canal Winchester, some on council believe the township could do more for city residents.
"As for Madison Township, we need to be a constant thorn in their side," Amos said.
York provides monthly statistics from his department to City Council. Through July, 858 of the township police department's 11,444 calls for service this year were in Canal Winchester.
Madison Township police officers have jurisdiction in the incorporated areas of Canal Winchester, Groveport and Obetz.
However, any citations written by township officers in Canal Winchester go to municipal court and not the city's mayor's court.
In 2019, Canal Winchester City Council approved a resolution to allow Madison Township officers to cite people into mayor's court, but an agreement between the city and township never has been finalized.