The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

May 9, 2014

Ashtabula prepares to test for additional police officers

By SHELLEY TERRY - sterry@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

ASHTABULA — Ashtabula covers 7.73 square miles and has a population of about 19,000 people.

Tuesday night’s police levy passed by 489 votes, according to the unofficial results from the Ashtabula County Board of Elections. City Hall is celebrating the victory even though the revenue won’t come in until next year.

“We will budget accordingly and hire staff at that point,” City Manager Jim Timonere said. “The good news is we have a civil service test for officers this month. This will be the list we will hire from.”

City officials are reaching out to as many groups as possible, encouraging potential recruits to take the test since they know they will be hiring from it.

“The city has not been able to say that in quite some time,” Timonere said. “I truly hope we can diversify our police force.”

Tuesday’s ballot was the second time the five-year 2.5-mill levy came before city voters to fund more police protection. It lost by 257 votes in November, according to the official results from the Ashtabula County Board of Elections.

Voters said yes this time — 1,467, or 60 percent to 978, or 40 percent, according to the unofficial results from the Ashtabula County Board of Elections.

City Council President J.P. Ducro IV had promised voters that if the levy passed the city would hire five more officers and two additional dispatchers for the police department.

Police Chief Robert Stell said the additional officers will go a long way in helping the department get a handle on crime and allow his department to cut down on overtime.

He thanked everyone who voted for the levy, and who worked to pass it, for their support.

“The 2.5-mill levy will generate about $500,000, which will be strictly dedicated to the Police Department for five years,” he said. “We’re going to stretch it as far as we can, it’s the taxpayers’ money and it’s important we treat it that way, and respect it.”