Police levy on ballot in South Point

Published 10:38 am Thursday, October 30, 2014

SOUTH POINT — Next week voters in the village of South Point will decide if they want to pass a levy that would fund adding more officers onto the force.

“Right now, we only have one full-time officer with benefits,” Ron West, mayor of South Point, said. “The rest of the police department is only part-time with no benefits.”

With only four officers in South Point currently, the crime rate is steadily increasing, West said.

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“Crime has gone up substantially within the last five years,” he said. “There have been several drug raids and break-ins recently. Drug calls and police sendouts have become a lot more consistent. The levy is very needed.”

If the levy passes, officers in South Point would be able to work full-time with benefits, allowing them to stay in the community. Often South Point loses its officers to other agencies that can pay benefits, West said.

It would also generate funds for new and upgraded equipment for the police department.

“A lot of people are concerned they won’t be able to afford the tax increase,” Mary Cogan, South Point council member, said. “But without the added police protection and the benefit of keeping officers with us, property values will actually decrease.”

The levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $105 a year, but it would generate $166,476 a year continually.

Right now, all of the general funding goes to operating the police department.

“We are going to pay for it one way or another,” Cogan said. “If it passes, it will cost a little more money, but if it doesn’t, crime will continue to go up in our community. Right now, there are many crimes against property, and without the levy being passed, that could turn into crimes against people.”

Pat Leighty, village administrator, agrees.

“As a citizen, I think the levy is great,” Leighty said. “Personally, I’ve had two break-ins in my garage in the last seven years and have lost thousands of dollars. If it doesn’t pass, it will be very difficult to improve our protection. We need all of the police protection that we can get.”

Cogan knows about the problem with break-ins as well, having gone through several at South Point Storage, which she and her husband own.

“We had to bite the bullet two years ago and put up security cameras in order to keep criminal activity out,” Cogan said.

With the growing issue of crime in South Point and police protection that is struggling to keep up, this is one of the most important levies on the ballot for the area, supporters say.

“I carry a heavier burden for the village being on the city council,” Cogan said. “We want to protect and serve everyone at the lowest possible cost and give out information that everyone needs to know to be safe.”

Other levies on the ballot throughout the county include renewals for fire protection in Chesapeake, which would create $13,749 a year, Lawrence Township, which would create $20,180 a year, Upper Township, which would create $40,560 a year, Washington Township, which would create $4,470 a year and Windsor Township, which would create $20,130. All of these levies are for five years.