MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Sheriff will continue to provide the village of Centerburg with contracted law enforcement services. The contract was signed by the sheriff and the Knox County Commissioners on Thursday afternoon.
The commissioners asked if the contract would bypass the furlough situation created by recent county belt-tightening, but Sheriff David Barber said the furlough negotiations established with the Fraternal Order of Police union prevails over the service contract. That was one of the things Centerburg officials were concerned about.
Barber and the commissioners discussed a lack of success thus far with finding any takers for renting out bed space at the jail in order to raise money to help the budget crunch. The possibility of holding federal prisoners was discussed as well, although Barber isn’t sure that would be a good area for the county.
“I would have major concerns about language barriers,” Barber said, pointing out that many federal prisoners are illegal immigrants, many of whom don’t speak English. Barber said he has some deputies who know enough Spanish to book a Spanish-speaking prisoner, but that without a high degree of fluency in Spanish and other foreign languages, it could be a liability to the county to attempt long-term holding of prisoners who don’t speak English.
Barber said he believed there isn’t likely to be much success in renting bed space to other counties because most of Ohio’s counties are in similar budget crunches as Knox, if not worse.
The sheriff asked the commissioners whether they have considered the possibility of raising sales taxes one-quarter percent to help the county budget situation.
“The public wants to see us tightening our belts before we go to something like that,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said.
Barber suggested they keep it in mind, and pointed out his department’s reorganization and suspending of the DARE program as demonstrating to the public the efforts being made to deal with the budget situation.
Barber also reported positive progress on maintenance work getting done at the jail.
Keith Bailey, director of the Delaware-Knox-Marion-Morrow Solid Waste District, also met with the commissioners Thursday to select a contractor for Knox County’s yard waste grinding operations. Based on numerous bids submitted to DKMM and the remaining funds in the organization’s budget, Earth-n-Wood Products of North Canton was selected to do all of Mount Vernon and Mount Gilead’s grinding, for a cost of $17,500.
The company also offered to haul off excess mulch at no additional charge, but Commissioner Robert Wise suggested holding a large portion back to be sold off to the highest bidders, as well as holding back the traditional free mulch available to county residents.
The commissioners met with Ron Simpson earlier in the day, who followed up on an Apple Valley deck that was built on top of a county utility easement. Simpson said there is not sufficient room on the current utility easement to reroute the force main wastewater line which lies beneath the deck. The potential rerouting of the line will require requesting an easement from the neighbor.
Simpson reported the new 500,000-gallon water tank for Apple Valley has been delivered, but ground has not yet been broken for the installation. He also informed the commissioners of his plan to hire one person soon.