The City of Nelsonville and the Village of Buchtel are working out an agreement that would see the Nelsonville Police Department take over policing in Buchtel.
“We want to provide the best police protection and services for the residents of Buchtel for what they are currently paying on their taxes,” said Village of Buchtel Fiscal Officer Kirk Grandy. “We have explored other options over the past three years, and this is our best option for sure.”
Currently, the village employs two part-time officers. However, Grandy said if they are not on duty, it can take as much as 30 minutes for the sheriff to respond to calls for service.
“With Nelsonville, they’re just over the hill, so they could be in Buchtel in five minutes,” Grandy said.
Under the current proposal, the Village of Buchtel would pay the City of Nelsonville $32,000 per year to take over policing, Nelsonville City Manager Scott Frank said in a Nov. 16 Nelsonville Police and Fire Committee meeting.
The Village of Buchtel would additionally compensate Nelsonville for any situation that generates more than 20 hours of overtime in a pay period, as well as jail costs for Buchtel residents, Frank said.
Grandy said this would ultimately save village residents money while providing “much better police protection.”
Nelsonville Chief of Police Scott Fitch said the police department can meet the village’s needs.
“If they are in need, it’s my opinion that we can provide them a very good level of service for very minimal additional cost to us,” Fitch said. “And I think we can provide a level of service to citizens of Buchtel that is going to be more than satisfactory to them without sacrificing the level of service we are providing to the Nelsonville residents.”
Fitch said the agreement could benefit Nelsonville residents too. Especially given the proximity of Buchtel to the Nelsonville-York schools, Fitch said the agreement will allow the Nelsonville Police Department to enforce traffic violations in the area.
Nelsonville City Council Member Justin Booth said the agreement would be mutually beneficial.
“For us, it’s consistency with our adjoining communities — when we have problems over here, a lot of times people go over the hill and hide out in Buchtel, and they obviously don’t have the same kind of resources, so it’s something that makes both communities safer and benefits everyone,” Booth said.
Grandy said this decision will not impact Buchtel’s independence from Nelsonville.
“We want to make sure that all of our residents know that this has nothing to do with consolidating the village with Nelsonville,” Grandy said. “We will still be Buchtel, we will still have our own council, rules and ordinances. It will not incorporate us into Nelsonville.”
Nelsonville City Council was set to hear a first reading of an ordinance on the the matter at its Monday, Nov. 22 meeting. Meanwhile, the Buchtel Village Council is set to discuss the issue at its Dec. 2 meeting, Grandy said.