LIBERTY TWP. — Voters here will be asked in May to renew a five-year police levy that pays for protection by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
First approved in 2004, the 3-mill levy was replaced in 2009 and expires at the end of this year, said Kristen Bitonte, township administrator.
After considering three options –– renewing the levy for five years, replacing it with a 3-mill, five-year levy or replacing it with a 3.5-mill, five-year levy – trustees on Tuesday chose the least expensive option for taxpayers and voted to put it on the May 6 ballot.
That option was also recommended by the township’s finance committee.
“By renewing it, we’re getting the most bang for our buck,’’ said Trustee Tom Farrell.
The levy is expected to bring in $2.35 million annually, slightly less than the $2.5 million the current levy raises. That difference is because property valuation in the township dropped from $847 million to $784 million, according to figures provided to the township from the Butler County Auditor’s Office.
If approved, taxes would remain $184 annually on a house with a $200,000 value, Bitonte said.
A seven-year financial forecast shows that if the levy were renewed, there would be enough money to pay the cost of the contract with the sheriff’s office with no changes through 2020, with a $1 million ending balance that year.
The levy would also pay for the township’s share of the cost of a school resource officer at Lakota East High School, equipment, and cruisers.
Bitonte said the township would even have enough money to add a deputy or two in 2016, should it be necessary, and still remain in the black through 2020.
“I’m satisfied with the coverage we have now. It’s adequate without being bloated,’’ said Trustee Dave Kern. “I’m comfortable with where we are now.”
Calls for service in the township have increased gradually the last few years, from 12,576 in 2010; to 13,184 in 2011; to 16,181 in 2012; and 16,337 in 2013.
The current contract with the sheriff’s office expires later this year.