August 20, 2014

Elyria
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Money allows sheriff to boost protection

ELYRIA — County Sheriff Phil Stammitti is banking on the commissioners to come through for him in October.
Stammitti said Wednesday that he’s using the $75,000 the commissioners gave him last week to restore many of the services that budget constraints had forced him to eliminate, such as community oriented policing in the townships.

Stammitti

The money also will allow him to pay enough overtime to have four deputies working the roads instead of the two or three per shift that have been on duty, and he will be able to keep a fourth deputy assigned to the detective bureau, he said.

He said he’s restoring the levels with the expectation that the commissioners will be able to provide him with an additional $75,000 in October. Last month, Stammitti told the commissioners he needed $146,000 to get through the year and avoid layoffs.

Stammitti said the money he got last week will go a long way.

“I’m still going to continue to watch my budget like I have since I’ve been here,” he said. Commissioner Lori
Kokoski praised Stammitti’s decision.

“I’m glad that he’s been able to reinstitute some of his priorities,” she said.

When Stammitti comes back in the fall, Kokoski said she’ll push her fellow commissioners to meet any additional funding request he makes.

Stammitti in May suspended the 11-year-old community policing program, which assigns a particular deputy to work with certain townships as a liaison and provides for a public presence for the department. At the time, township trustees feared the county’s budget woes would leave them without police protection.

New Russia Township trustee Richard Williams, who serves as chairman of the Lorain County Township Association’s Police Protection Committee, reacted positively to Stammitti’s decision to restore the program, but he said he worries that it might only be temporary if budget problems continue.

Stammitti said he’s aware that the problem could return.

“I know next year’s going to be as tough as this year,” he said.

The commissioners are hoping that voters will pass a 0.25 percentage point sales tax increase that will bring in about $7.4 million annually, enough money to restore all of the cuts they made earlier this year after the county lost $3.5 million in state funding.

Dave Noll, an adviser to the Lorain County Deputies Association, said the increased funding alleviates some of the concerns deputies had over safety, but he also worries that the cuts could return next year.

“At least you’re getting a glimmer of hope,” Noll said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.