City responds to third levy loss

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — With the third loss of a levy meant to curb financial difficulties with the Gallipolis Police Department, city officials are stepping back to take look at its future.

“It’s going to be hard,” said GPD Chief Jeff Boyer. “Crime is going up and we’re still operating with 10 officers. We’ll continue to provide the best service to the city possible and take our best step forward. I had wanted to hire five new officers because with more hands we could be more proactive (with investigations). My fear is we are becoming reactive.”

Boyer has said multiple times in the past, that with the increases in crime, officers hands have often been tied by prisoner escorts, taking reports and more. With two officers on duty as the standard shift assignment, it may also become hazardous to send one officer to an incident with no backup. Standard domestic dispute calls require two officers, Boyer has said.

Had the levy passed, those working and living in Gallipolis would pay a two percent income tax instead of a one percent.

Gallipolis City Commission President Tony Gallagher has said he felt the city may have not communicated its needs well enough to the public over the course of its levy campaign. He emphasized that any money spent by the city on things like new police cars or the amphitheater project of recent years were due to grants for construction or money contributed by the law enforcement trust fund from the Gallia Prosecutor’s Office for police equipment. The levy’s funds would have been specifically earmarked for police and safety needs.

“I don’t know if we’ll be losing any officers but we certainly won’t be hiring any more (beyond the current number),” said Gallagher.

Gallipolis residents voted down the municipal income one percent tax increase, 598 to 303, during the 2016 May primary last year, and again, 725 to 652, during the 2016 November election. Tuesday’s unofficial election results were 342 to 308 votes.

Gallagher said he did not know if the commission would attempt to put the levy on the next ballot for a fourth time. The commission will meet again and discuss its next steps to rectify the ongoing budget problem.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103

By Dean Wright