HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Monday Hamilton County Sheriff Simon Leis announced the department will be losing 30 patrol officer positions based on contracts negotiated with county townships.
"I don't like it but there's not much I can do," Leis said. "I've been given instruction form the commissioners what we have to do here."
The news came during a scheduled update with count commissioners.
Helping to offset the loss, Leis says Sycamore and Miami Townships have decided to each pick up for additional patrols.
Leis also announced there are 13 open patrol positions open elsewhere in the department including some CIS, or Criminal Investigations Section, positions. There are also three openings in the Court Services Division. The Sheriff says the General Budget will ultimately determine how many of those positions the department is able to pick up. Even still, Leis expects not all officers will be able to retain work in the department.
"In all probability there will be some layoffs," he said.
Leis says Colerain lost the most patrols at eleven and Green Township will also lose six county funded positions. Green Township currently pays for the other six Sheriff patrols in their township. Green Township trustee Rocky Boiman says they are currently working to negotiate with the sheriff's department and examine the township budget and interest to determine whether they are able to take on the expense of any of the now unfunded positions.
"It's a concern. I think they all have concern," Leis said. "I think Green Township has really got some problems. They're really, really short on money and I don't know where they're going to get the money."
"It's really been a great relationship over the years and from our point of view we hope to keep this thing going, but obviously we have to remain well within our budget too," Green Township Trustee Rocky Boiman explained.
Boiman says they have been working with the township's own police department to find way to minimize impacts on public safety.
"I think it's going to take a little bit of re-working," Boiman acknowledged. "But I do not expect there to be one iota drop of service here in the township."
Leis confirms the 15 patrol positions in Crosby, Whitewater, and Harrison townships will be retained and the county will pick up the tab. Initially the small townships were being asked to pay help pay for the patrols.
Leis says the sheriff's office is none-the-less still working to phase out county-funded township patrols. He says the transition is set to be complete at the end of March of 2015 when the proposed three year contracts run out. Leis says the expectation is that the smaller townships will raise money by putting a law enforcement levy on their ballot.
"Commissioners have agreed to pay the tab until they get the money but if they don't make an effort, if they don't do something, if they don't get a tax levy on or whatever the case may be then those officers will be yanked," Leis explained.
"It gives us time to go ahead and find what we're going to do," Harrison Township Board President Tom Losekamp said.
"Once we accomplish this I think the future for the patrols will be very good because we won't always have these problems in the future,' Leis said. "Come March 2015 the contracts with townships will be forever solved."
The new township contracts awaiting signatures have been standardized to eliminate inconsistencies across the contracts.
Leis says while county funded patrols are being phased-out, the county will continue to provide the administration, specialized units, and criminal investigative officers.
Leis says at one time the Sheriff's office budget was 77 million and now it is down to 52 million dollars.
"I'm lucky I can make the budget that exists today I've been cut so badly," Leis said.
According to Leis, the cost of funding one position in 2012 would be $69,170 dollars for the townships. The second year the cost is set at $75,000 and the third year it hits $81,000 dollars. Finally in 2015 the price to fund each position would increase up to the full cost of $87,000 dollars which includes benefits.
"I've been in this office 24 years. When I first came in this department it wasn't a very top notch agency and I struggled hard to make it a top notch agency and what took a long period of time for me to accomplish that," Leis said. "Unfortunately a lot of it is being eroded with the situation we face today."