EDITORIAL: Boardman officials keep faith with residents who voted yes

VINDY.COM  Published: Thu, April 4, 2013 

When residents of boardman approved a 3.8-mill police levy in August 2011, we suggested that the special election results offer a lesson for all local governments seeking additional taxes or renewal of existing ones in these challenging economic times: Tell the people the truth, give them the facts, and then let them decide without threats or intimidation.

We can now add keep your promises — based on what has occurred in the township since the five-year, additional levy was approved by a 1,000-plus vote margin.

On March 28, Kevin Stratton, 27, became the 10th police officer hired by the township — in keeping with a pledge by trustees Larry Moliterno, Brad Calhoun and Thomas Costello, Administrator Jason Loree and police Chief Jack Nichols, to use the revenue from the levy to bolster the police force.

They also pledged to purchase equipment to ensure that road patrols are increased.

There is an added benefit to the expansion of the force that township officials apparently did not anticipate.

“The unseen effect (of the hiring of the 10 police officers) is the reduction of the amount of overtime our officers will have to take,” said Chief Nichols. “We’re certainly more stable in the ranks of officers.”

With a force of 57 and the ability to support a fully staffed 911 emergency dispatch center, Boardman is well positioned to deal with the issue of crime, which has been a hot topic for some time.

During the campaign for the special levy — residents rejected a 3.85-mill levy in November 2010 — trustees Moliterno, Calhoun and Costello threw political caution to the wind and gave residents the unvarnished truth about crime in the township.

They talked about the huge increase in the number of drug houses and the criminals the dens attract, which put many residents on edge.

The trustees also pledged there would be a police presence in areas where crime was on the rise. The deterrent effect of such a crackdown can be seen in Youngstown, where saturation patrols by the police and state and federal law enforcement agencies cause criminals to go into hiding or flee the city.

When the results of the special levy in Boardman were announced, Trustee Costello, who was chairmen of the board at the time, offered this observation: “We’ve said Boardman’s at a crossroads and the public has spoken. … Now we have to fulfill our promises. We’ve laid out our game plan and now we have the ability to implement it.”

In addition to the 10 officers, the township has said it will hire one diversion specialist, one advocate, a crime analyst, a secretary, two records clerk and two dispatchers.

The $3.8 million a year generated by the tax — the money started coming in March 2012 — should allow the trustees, the administrator and the police chief to fully implement the plan that was laid out for the voters.

Lest residents worry that other operations of township government are being sacrificed at the expense of the police department, the $2.4 million trustees said would be pulled back into the general fund from the police will provide funding for other services.

Boardman officials have kept faith with the residents, which will stand them in good stead when the support of the community is needed.