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Ohio city OKs grant application, renewal levy request to fund police

The Painesville department plans to use the Law Enforcement Recruitment Grant to promote its internship program and purchase needed equipment

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By Bryson Durst
The News-Herald, Willoughby, Ohio

PAINESVILLE, Ohio — Painesville officials have recently taken steps to fund the city’s police department, applying for a grant to recruit interns and placing a police renewal levy on the fall ballot.

As noted in the June 5 city manager legislative reports, the department plans to use the Law Enforcement Recruitment Grant to promote its internship program and purchase needed equipment. Administrative Lt. Toby Burgett noted that the department is “awaiting final approval” for a $4,128.87 award after initially applying for $10,415 from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services.

“One of the problems the Painesville City Police Department faces, like many other local police departments, is recruiting officers that closely resemble the community’s demographics,” Burgett said. “Thinking outside the box, we feel this recruitment starts with college interns, which Painesville PD hopes will transition into full-time police officers.”

He noted that the department currently partners with Lake Erie College for the internship program.

“We wish to expand our intern recruitment efforts to public colleges that draw a large student body with diverse populations from within the state,” Burgett explained.

The program has “successfully brought in numerous applicants and two full-time employees” in more than 12 years, he said.

Interns help with annual reports, archive records, perform administrative work and ride with officers. Burgett added they also “learn about the operations of a police department, budgets, community engagement, identity protection/confidentiality, public records and local and state laws.”

City Council authorized the department to apply for and accept the grant on June 5, one of two police funding measures that it unanimously approved at that meeting. It also voted to place a 2.5-mill, five-year police renewal levy on the Nov. 7 general election ballot.

The levy was initially passed in 2019, according to the legislative report. If approved again by voters, taxes under the renewal will be levied starting in tax year 2024 and collected starting in 2025.

The levy is expected to raise $626,000 each year and cost $73 per $100,000 in appraised property value, as noted in a county auditor certificate that was provided by city Finance Director Bill Parkinson.

When the levy first passed in 2019, it was projected to raise $608,000 each year and cost $87.50 per $100,000 in property valuation.

As noted in the legislative report, the department will use the revenue for hiring, training, raises and vehicle purchases.

If the renewal fails, the funding will come from the city’s general fund. City Manager Doug Lewis noted that using the general fund to support those needs “would be a difficult feat.”

A renewal levy does not increase the rate of taxation, as noted by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office.

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