NOTE: The headline has changed to clarify misunderstandings some readers experienced on the original headline–“Put-in-Bay Township Releases Sheriff’s 3-Year Contract” does not mean it was cancelled.
Put-in-Bay Township Board of Trustees’ resolve to improve police service on South Bass and Middle Bass Islands was cemented on 13 December 2022 in a contract with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. “For the purpose of performing police functions, exercising police powers, or rendering any police service on behalf of the contracting subdivision,” the contract effective date was 1 January 2023. It expires on 31 December 2025. The Put-in-Bay Township Trustees are Matt Miller, Chris Cooper, and Eric Engel. The Ottawa County Sheriff is Stephen Levorchick.
Police department needs, objectives, priorities, and funding came under review in a series of Put-in-Bay Police Commission meetings held during August and September 2022. Long-term planning, required due to the budget process for the Village, was in gridlock due to differences in service priorities between the Village and Township. At the 6 September 2022 Police Commission meeting, member Craig Cox stated, “We feel, and I speak for the Council, it is right for the islands to have one police force.” Afterwards, Township Trustee Chris Cooper told PiBDaily™, “We have not made a decision about a new contract.” Quite possibly because Village Councilwoman Judy Berry stated, “We were in default about police presence on Middle Bass Island this year.”
The Put-in-Bay Township contract with Sheriff Levorchick specifies
conditions related to costs, deputies, housing, ferry transportation, office space and equipment, temporary inmate housing, vehicles with fuel and maintenance, and uniforms. The contract does not specify the number of deputies. Rather, it states, “The Sheriff agrees to hire an adequate number.” Additional contract particulars are available in a PDF file on Put-in-Bay Daily.
The annual cost for Sheriff’s service is $750,000 per year. However, the contract states, “in the event the Sheriff has incurred seventy-five percent (75%) of such amount in any calendar year of this agreement before the end of said calendar year” the two parties agree to negotiate in good faith any additional costs required by the Sheriff.
One especially significant portion of the contract stipulates, “this agreement is subordinate to all other functions of the Sheriff and further that the operation of this agreement and the responsibilities of the Sheriff hereunder are directly conditional upon the availability of the manpower and equipment to perform the services requested . . .”
In addition to making a copy of the Sheriff’s contract available, Township Trustee Chris Cooper kindly released a letter in which he explains how Put-in-Bay Township decided to proceed with Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office. Below are highlights from Mr. Cooper’s letter. [WORD file here]
One of the main reasons was coverage for Middle Bass, which is a part of Put-in-Bay Township. For the past two years, Middle Bass has barely had any police coverage during the times outlined in the contract with the Village of Put-in-Bay.
According to police call records, about 39% of all police calls are in the Township, so we as a board felt that 55% was excessive[in the budget].
Going with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office would definitely lower our insurance rates because it’s a set amount and the Sheriff’s Office isn’t as much of a liability as the Village is.
Now, is there a feud between the Village and the Township? Absolutely not. In fact, we have met with the Village and the Sheriff to discuss how this new arrangement will work. Currently, the Village is covering police calls in the Township until the Sheriff gets officers hired and moved here. (Estimated March of 2023)
Basically, the Board of Trustees did not feel the Village could provide the protection needed even through their contract was slightly less.