NORTH LEWISBURG – The North Lewisburg Village Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the Mechanicsburg Police Department to provide law enforcement protection for the village.
Since the beginning of the year, North Lewisburg has been without law enforcement services because the village and Champaign County Sheriff’s Office could not reach a contract agreement. The sheriff’s office had provided law enforcement services in the village since the 1990s.
Mayor Cheryl Hollingsworth opened Tuesday’s meeting by stating the village had been working on a contract with Mechanicsburg for the last two months.
Mechanicsburg Mayor Greg Kimball, Administrator April Huggins-Davis, Police Chief John Alexander, Police Capt. Scott Bodey and Village Solicitor Joseph Jimenez attended Tuesday’s meeting.
Hollingsworth said the proposed contract would be for three years and would require North Lewisburg to furnish police vehicles, which would stay in North Lewisburg. North Lewisburg would pay for maintenance and gas for the vehicles.
Hollingsworth said Bodey will manage police operations in North Lewisburg.
“It’s a good basic contract and I’ve been so pleased with Chief Alexander and (Capt.) Bodey coming over and meeting our fire district personnel and meeting with the village and driving around and I’ve just been very impressed with everything and the cooperation,” Hollingsworth said. “I have to give a special thanks to April and (North Lewisburg administrator) Andy (Yoder) because they’ve really been the key people negotiating this contract.”
A draft of the contract provided to the Daily Citizen states Mechanicsburg Police would assign uniformed patrol officers to North Lewisburg for 80 hours per week. The standard non-overtime cost for an officer will be $25.10 per hour.
North Lewisburg also agrees to provide officers assigned to the village office space, phones, computer equipment, internet, copiers, fax equipment, office supplies and administrative support as required.
When asked about who residents should contact in the event of an emergency, Alexander said residents would still call 911 and officers would be dispatched to that location. During a non-emergency situation, Alexander said residents can call the non-emergency dispatch number at 937-834-3303.
The contract draft also states that either party shall have the right to terminate the agreement by giving the other party 90 days written notice of any intent to terminate. In the event that the village terminates the agreement prior to the expiration of the three year term, North Lewisburg shall remain liable to the Mechanicsburg Police Department for the unemployment benefits paid or due to the patrol officers provided for under this agreement.
Council agreed to pass the resolution as an emergency resolution. The contract draft states the agreement shall go into effect only after approval by resolution passed by the village council of North Lewisburg and Mechanicsburg.
Following council’s vote, Kimball thanked them for their confidence in Mechanicsburg’s police department. He noted the agreement requires approval from both village councils and Mechanicsburg’s council has to still approve the resolution.
A fact sheet about the proposed agreement from the village of Mechanicsburg states the police chief will be administratively responsible for the terms of this contract, the contract will in no way affect the level of service to Mechanicsburg and its residents, and the contract is designed to assure Mechanicsburg residents that they will in no way be financially subsidizing police protection for the village of North Lewisburg.
“It should be clear to all parties involved that the village of Mechanicsburg in no way solicited this action,” the fact sheet states. “However having the resources available to the Mechanicsburg Police Department the village is willing to provide these services to our neighbors.”
Nick Walton can be reached at 937-652-1331 Ext. 1777 or on Twitter @UDCWalton.