Letter to Editor: Rutland Police Protection Levy
Dear Editor & Valued Voters,
The Village of Rutland humbly seeks your support this upcoming Election Day, November 3, 2020, in approving both a 2-Mill General Operating Expenses Renewal Levy, initially passed by voters in 1996, and a 2-Mill Police Protection Renewal Levy, initially passed by voters in 2006, which, combined, will generate approximately $18,300 in critical funding, of which $12,000 for general operating expenses and $6,300.00 for police personnel fees and wages, along with operating supplies and materials and vehicle maintenance.
In addition to administrative services including clerical and fiscal services, the Village of Rutland offers an array of public facilities and services. These facilities and services are in part made possible through the current 2-Mill General Operating Expenses Levy. The Rutland Civic Center is a full-size community center which offers a variety of amenities, including a concession area and kitchen; a full-court gymnasium, stage and seating area, tables and chairs and two public restrooms. Park and recreational services are provided through the Jim Vennari Park, which has an array of playground equipment for children to enjoy along with a spacious shelter house for social gatherings. The Village provides street lighting services through 40 street lamps and is responsible to maintain 22 public roadways, including a state highway. Lastly and most importantly, the Village provides police protection and property and land usage code enforcement. To secure these very facilities and services for the next five years and due to the existing financial instability of the Village, renewing the General Operating Expenses Levy is crucial, now more than ever.
Not only do general services need taxpayer funding, police protection does as well. Since the reinstatement of police protection in May of this year, the Rutland Police Department has responded to 84 calls for service, which include five administrative calls (6%), 14 criminal complaints (16.7%), 27 unclassified incidents requiring a police officer (32.1%), one parking enforcement call (1.2%) and 37 traffic enforcement calls (44%).
The Police Department is currently staffed by one part time paid Acting Marshal, who serves as Chief of Police, and two volunteer auxiliary police officers. Patrol services are provided to approximately 453 residents and 16 businesses through two police cruisers. Supplemental programs include auxiliary police service, business and home checks, well-being checks, civilian ride-along opportunities, and Project ChildSafe.
Through the current police protection levy, taxpayers have funded in part police personnel wages in the amount of $7,325.35 and just over $1,000 in cruiser maintenance. $4,000 of taxpayer dollars is appropriated for police equipment. The 2020 police department operating budget is $16,447.00. Additionally expenses incurred for police protection are financed through the general fund, which unfortunately has a deficit of $31,615.64.
The Village administration has ensured continued collaboration to facilitate department accountability and transparency and reduce costly liability. Under the tenure of Marshal Mark Griffin, a revised comprehensive departmental policy manual has been issued, delineating duties, responsibilities and operational guidelines. Additionally, through the recently released Village website, department statistics displaying calls for service and fleet maintenance details allow taxpayers to view in real time the work of their public servants, which is financed through their tax dollars.
By voting yes for the 2-Mill Police Protection Renewal Levy, you will secure the supplemental funding necessary to keep a police presence in your community for the next five years. Due to the budget deficit, the general fund cannot bear the full weight of expenses incurred as part of providing police protection, thus the passage of this Levy is critical.
We understand and share your frustration with the Village’s history of maladministration and malfeasance. As administrators and members of Council, we are striving each and everyday to overcome our community’s financial distress. To this end, a Budget Committee meets once monthly to navigate the Village’s budget crisis and ensure those who contributed to our community’s financial hardships are repaying their debt to the taxpayers. It is important and refreshing to know that progress is being made. Our general deficit is now reduced to $31,615.64 compared to January of this year, when the general deficit was $50,681.22. Progress has been made, in large part, due to service cuts; however, such cuts take away from valued voters such as you the critical public services that each of you deserve. With your support at the ballot box, we can continue lowering the deficit and provide the services important to you and your family.
To restore trust, we have improved public transparency like never before. Such has been bolstered through the release of a comprehensive website; live broadcast of public meetings and detailed reports communicating Village affairs, finances and services. We know such an initiative is important as you and your family deserve to know where your tax dollars are going.
On November 3, 2020, we ask that you vote YES for the 2-Mill Generating Operation Expenses Levy and the 2-Mill Police Protection Levy. For more information about Village services, including the police protection, please visit www.villageofrutland.org or police.villageofrutland.org. If you do not have internet access, you may visit the Rutland Civic Center during regular business hours to discuss any questions and view any public record of your desire.
Thank you for your support!
Mayor Tyler M. Eblin
Village of Rutland
Members of the Council
Village of Rutland