Hartville voters consider income tax hike to fund police station


HARTVILLE – For the seventh time, voters will be asked to consider an income tax increase of 0.5%.

If approved, the funding was directed to the police service and would increase the income tax rate to 1.5%.

The new taxes could bring in around $ 900,000 to the village. If approved, residents working outside the village would continue to receive a 1% tax credit, but would be responsible for the additional 0.5%.

Following:Hartville Hosts Community Meeting to Discuss Income Tax Levy Options

Following:Flurry of new candidates seek vacant seats in Stark

This is the first time that the money has been allocated solely to the police service. In previous tests, authorities had hoped to use it for repairs and paving of streets as well as for separation between roads and police.

Funding is a necessity, according to Mayor Cindy Billings.

The additional money would be used to renovate and convert the old Pastores dry cleaning and laundry room at 526 S. Prospect Street to a new police station.

The village bought the property which has the old laundry and two garages.

The village purchased the old Pastores Dry Cleaning and Laundromat building at 526 S. Prospect St. in the hope of making it the new police station.

Restricted quarters for Hartville Police

The mayor said the existing police department space behind the village town hall is cramped and does not provide adequate space, creating security concerns.

“If you saw (the office space) you would be horrified,” Billings said. “It’s basically two rooms. No bathroom and the only running water is a sink. It’s horrible.”

The department has been there since the building opened 31 years ago, she said, speculating that the space of less than 500 square feet was intended for a temporary office.

Space has been a concern for Chief Larry Dordea since arriving in the village in 2009 to lead the eight full-time and three part-time officers.

“I recognized that it was not a police station,” he said. “There were none of the normal things a police station has. It has floor-to-ceiling residential windows. There is no ballistic protection for officers. They could become targets.”

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea points to the lack of space in the conference room, which also serves as a break room, interrogation room, holding cell, technical room, as well as storage weapons to the Hartville Police Department.

For the past 11 years, Dordea has begged the council to address her concerns.

The chief said the two rooms used by the department have overlapping functions that are often used simultaneously. It offers no privacy and reduces efficiency, which makes the job difficult, he said.

Without a detention center, an officer will have to transport a suspect to Stark County Jail, he said. A return trip lasts at least an hour and a half, taking an agent out of the village for an extended period. Sometimes Dordea has to bring in officers overtime to get to the prison.

Officers, as well as anyone detained, must share toilets used by city hall employees and visitors, the chief said.

In addition, officers park nearby and have to walk detainees across a broken sidewalk and high stoop.

“Sometimes the person is intoxicated with alcohol or drugs,” Dordea said. “Sometimes it snows, rains, or freezes. If they trip or fall, we could get hurt.”

The chief says it is difficult to guarantee the safety of his agents, people visiting his department and those in the village hall.

“We sincerely hope that the citizens of Hartville see us as a safe operational facility,” Dordea said.

Hartville Police Chief Larry Dordea reports issues with curbs and steps at the entrance to the Hartville Police Department.  Dordea says this can create quite a problem when drunk or messy suspects arrive, especially during the dark or winter months.

What’s next for the Hartville Police Department and their office?

The architects carried out a spatial analysis on the former property of the Pastores.

There is ample room for officers as well as places to secure firearms and evidence, interrogation rooms and a detention center.

It will also include a security shelter as required by state law, Dordea said. Any new security building must include a shelter.

The village of Hartville is asking for a 0.5% income tax increase to help fund the transformation of the old Pastores dry cleaning and laundry room into a new police station.

Dordea said cost-cutting measures had entered the transformation planning.

“If voters tell council it’s the right thing to do, they will have to do it,” the leader said.

“We have been waiting since 2009. With the addition of the security requirement, it has certainly increased the cost of policing but it has not changed the need. It is not a desire and it is not a minor need It’s a desperate need of us It’s a matter of security.

Contact Amy at 330-775-1135 or amy.knapp@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @aknaappINDE

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