Grassroots organization forming in Plain City
By Rob Treynor
A citizens’ effort is underway to try to restore the Plain City Police Department to 2012 staffing levels.
Plain City resident Ryan Lane met the village council Monday evening to inform them of plans to form a grassroots committee and a Facebook campaign in support of reinstating officer Bowen, who was laid off last year.
Lane asked the council, “What would it take to get a full-time officer back on the police force?”
“We would need a better financial picture,” Mayor Sandra Adkins told Lane.
When asked whether this grassroots campaign was under the direction of anyone on the police force, Lane said no, “In fact, I just informed Chief (Jim) Hill about our group right before the meeting started.”
Hill confirmed that he had just learned of the committee’s formation moments before, telling Lane, “It’s your right as a citizen to do so. The group would be on their own merit. It’s not under the umbrella of the police department.”
Outgoing solicitor Eamon Costello offered advice to Lane in starting his group.
“I’d advise you to make yourself familiar with the budget,” he said. “These guys have been having to crunch numbers and it has been an unpleasant task. But maybe you’ll see something that they’ve missed with the money coming in.”
“I think that if you ask any council member individually, you’ll find that the decision to lay off anybody was one that no one wanted to make,” Costello continued. “It wasn’t done out of desire.”
Village council president Kevin Vaughn offered advice to Lane as well.
“If you’re going to build a Facebook group, try to put credible information there,” Vaugnh said “I’ve seen things on Facebook about this that have been spun, and there are lots of untruths out there. If you need information, we can provide that. But false information doesn’t do anyone any good.
“We’re all passionate about our community. We’re doing the best we can to get this village back on our feet. There’s nothing we’d like better than to get Officer Bowers back to a full-time status.”
After the meeting, Ryan Lane said, “We won’t let this rest. A committee is being formed. We’re inviting everyone to come to the March 11 council meeting to voice their opinion about the staffing of the police department.”
In August of last year, the village cut more than 25 percent of its budget, which included cuts to the police force and to other village employees.
In November, village residents overwhelmingly rejected a half-percent personal income tax levy, designed to generate $500,000 in revenue and restore some cut services.
A discussion during the Jan. 28 village council meeting, on the topic of reinstating officer Brian Bowers took place.
Council member Doug Saxour was in favor of using infrastructure savings money to reinstate the officer.
Treasurer Renee Van Winkle said, “We made these cuts so we didn’t have to dip into our infrastructure savings.”
The purpose of those savings were then discussed.
“We have some serious expenses coming up. Sewer expenses. We have $100,000 worth of a traffic light to fund,” Kevin Vaughn said.
“We need a water and sewer manager. Zoning should be a full-time job,” Mark Hostetler said.
Saxour made a motion to reinstate the officer. Jim Moore seconded the motion. The motion failed, 2-4.