PORT JEFFERSON — Port Jefferson Village Council examined and approved two ordinances at its meeting Monday evening, Feb. 3.
The first ordinance outlined an increase in the sewage rates for 2020. The ordinance will increase the amount of funding designated for maintenance and repair. Council learned it had been many years since an increase. Based on the need to keep up with ever-increasing costs, council felt it was time for an increase.
Mayor Steve Butterfield pointed out the need to increase the monthly bill at a meeting in 2019 noting any significant breakdown associated with the pump station located on Canal Street had the potential “to wipe us out.” The monthly sewage bill will go up from the current rate of $31.55 to $35, an increase of $3.45 per month. The ordinance was passed as an emergency measure and will go into effect on March 1, 2020.
In the mayor’s monthly report for January 2020, Butterfield announced the village took in $1710 in traffic fines for the month of January. Of that amount $712 goes to the state of Ohio, $120 to the village police fund, $53.34 to the computer fund and $28.50 to the Municipal Court fund.
Fiscal officer Judy Fair outlined the annual appropriations ordinance .This year’s budget is set at $78,004.
Councilman Tim Smith asked the mayor about trash that has been sitting out in front of a house on South Main Street for nearly a year and also noted several residents are still leaving their trash cans sitting out along the curb all week instead of just on the day of trash pick-up. Pointing to Police Patrolman Austin Knight who was in attendance Butterfield said, “Direct your questions to that gentleman sitting right over there, the police department is in charge of that.”
Knight said he visited the homes of the residents in question two times and no one answered the door; Knight said he would send a registered letter to the offenders noting the offenses and see if they addressed the situations.
Smith also asked about repairs needed for one of the stop lights after it was damaged by a farm combine last fall. Butterfield said a resident who saw the incident take place came forward and shared details about the accident. The incident remains under investigation.
Smith suggested the village move forward with the repairs, Councilwoman Krystal Cox said she contacted Elsner Painting and they said they could repaint all the lights if needed and council agreed to have that done after repairs are made.
Council approved a request from the Shelby County Board of Elections to use the village community center for a polling station for the year 2020. Council approved the request. The Community Center will again be the location for local residents to cast their votes in the Nov. 3, 2020 election along with the primary election and any other special elections. The village receives $100 from the Shelby County Board of Elections each time the community center is used.
Butterfield said the police department had approached him about the need for new bullet-proof vests and a better squad car. Knight said the vests will cost between $1,000 and $1,300 each and the department needs six of them for the chief and the department’s five part-time officers.
Knight also noted Patrolman Tony Chitwood was applying for a grant that would pay for 75 percent of the cost for the vests. Knight also pointed out the need for a better police cruiser if the village wants to maintain its police department.
“The old car we have is not reliable, it constantly dies when sitting at a stop light and sometimes stalls out when we put it in gear to make a traffic stop. I have been looking into a newer vehicle and found one in Chicago for about $18,000 but it sold,” said Knight.”We should be able to get a reliable vehicle for $15,000 to $20,000. I just need the OK from council to proceed if we find something that looks like a good deal.”
Butterfield said the police budget for 2020 would be about $45,000 to cover the cost of new vests, a better car, and estimated weekly wages for the officers.
“I told our police chief and the other officers that this will be a one-time shot at trying to get a reliable police department in place. Officers must be willing to come to work even when the hours are not the desired time everyone wants to work. If we invest all this money and effort into it and it doesn’t work out because of lack of effort, that’s it, we’re done with it. I will have to say the police department is doing a great job at present and things are moving in the right direction,” Butterfield said.
Council discussed the positive aspects of having their own police departments and agreed to move forward with plans to make improvements. Smith and Robert Bollinger both suggested getting started on putting up a new village garage to house the police car, village truck and other equipment if the village is going to invest so much money in the police department.
Council’s next meeting will be March 2, 2020, at 7 p.m. at the community center.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.