TILTONSVILLE — Amid complaints from residents about uncut grass, RV and boat ordinances, there were also inquiries Tuesday into an upcoming police fee renewal that will appear on the November ballot.
A $5.1 million renewal tax that generates about $80,000 a year for the Tiltonsville Police Department will go to voters Nov. 8.
A few residents asked the village council questions about the levy and what it is used for.
Village resident Steve Laposki first raised the issue at the Tiltonsville Village Council meeting on Tuesday evening. He said when the levy was originally put in place years ago, it was intended to help the village raise salaries to bring in more officers as well as provide round-the-clock service. However , he said he was recently told that in an emergency, residents should call 911 and not the police department directly due to the lack of 24-hour service.
Mayor Jason Staskey responded that dialing 911 in an emergency is a practice that has been in place in the area for some time, not just in the village, as the 911 center does the dispatch.
“If they are (Tiltonsville officers) on duty, they will be sent. If they’re not on duty, it’ll be Yorkville. If Yorkville is off duty, it will be county or state patrol. First they will call who is in the village. he said.
Laposki said the village needs more police presence. There is currently only one full-time officer — Police Chief Jerry Davis Jr. — and one part-time officer the village was able to hire recently after approving a raise last month. Full-time agents now earn $17.50 per hour and part-time agents $15 per hour.
In response to a question, Staskey said the village had only had one candidate for a full-time officer opening in the past year, with the individual turning down the position due to salary. .
Whether or not the upcoming renewal levy passes, Laposki said there must be “improved budgeting, planning, improved transparency and openness, evaluations and accountability.”
“Hiring, the way we’re doing it, isn’t succeeding and there needs to be more police presence in town with the resources we have, and that includes at school,” he said.
The police chief also received a $3 per hour pay raise last month, raising his salary from $17.50 to $20.50 per hour.
“The only way to entice people to come to work in the city is to give raises that constitute a living wage. We tried to do that, but since then we’ve been torn down. I’m not saying it’s you, but we’re trying to make improvements to attract more people. Give us a chance to do that and we’ll see how things work out.” said Staskey.
The need for a new police cruiser was also mentioned. Councilwoman Kelly Klubert said the department needed a second cruiser as a backup in case something happened to the first and that would help even out the wear and tear on the vehicle.
Resident John Cothran Sr. asked council what had happened to the “other levies” aimed at increasing police salaries to recruit additional officers.
“Wasn’t there enough money?” He asked.
Staskey said there wasn’t enough money accumulated, although they gave raises, it just wasn’t enough to get new recruits, that’s why they put in place another increase last month.
Resident Mike Roby also inquired about the royalty. He asked Davis how many hours a week and what days he was on duty.
Davis replied that he worked 40 hours a week between Monday and Thursday, usually three days a week.
Roby took issue with the fact that residents do not know which days the police are on or off duty. The Council said it could be a security issue to announce exact times and dates, with Davis adding that it varies weekly.
Roby said they needed better police coverage in the village.
Staskey said he has hired a part-time officer and hopes to hire additional officers to meet the village’s needs.
In addition, Lions Club member Roger Warren presented the council with a check for $250 to be used for village beautification projects. The club donated checks to three communities – Tiltonsville, Yorkville and Rayland. He suggested the funds be used to buy flags, veterans’ banners or something for the holiday celebration.
“We hope this gesture will be received in good faith and used as intended,” he said, adding that the group is always looking for new members and new projects.
In addition, a resolution to purchase a new 2023 police car was approved. Davis said the cruiser’s total cost was $45,455. The village got a $30,000 grant for the purchase, with the village contributing $15,000 towards the remaining cost.
The next Council meeting will be held on September 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building, located at 222 Grandview Avenue.