Tiltonsville wants 24-hour police protection

TILTONSVILLE — In an effort to provide 24-hour police protection for residents, Village Council voted during a special meeting Monday to put a 1.5-mill levy on the ballot in November.

If approved by voters, the levy would generate an estimated $76,000 per year to fund the village’s police department. The tax would be levied starting in tax year 2017, with collection occurring from 2018-2022.

The village has been struggling to pay competitive wages and with the upkeep of equipment for the department, officials said. In September, council passed a resolution to begin charging Tiltonsville residents service fees for police protection and street maintenance. The fees were set to be assessed per household — $10 per month for police and $5 per month for the street department.

The village voted to rescind the fee at the recommendation of village Solicitor Edward Littlejohn after the village was threatened with a lawsuit regarding the legality of the fees.

“With this levy we are going to endeavor to give the citizens 24-hour police protection. As wages go up, as the cost of vehicles go up, you have to weigh that against your budget,” said Mayor Ty Lollini. “I talked to a police department the other day that is going to pay their police officers $18 an hour. … What happens to small towns like Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Rayland is they have to be able to match that. If the levy doesn’t pass, we will probably have (Police Chief) Jerry Davis and another officer do a little bit of part-time.”

Lollini said he has been speaking to the mayors of the neighboring towns of Yorkville and Rayland about the possibility of joining forces to form a fire district and a police district that would allow them to share equipment, services and manpower.

“I think the time is right to do this. I believe we would be able to get more grant funding, we would have power in numbers, we would combine our tax levies,” Lollini said.

“Instead of buying a truck for one community, we would buy a truck for three communities. It just makes sense all the way around. …,” he noted.

The three municipalities formed the Yorkville-Tiltonsville-Rayland Coalition in 2014 to apply for shared services grants and cooperate for mutual benefit. The YTR Coalition applied for a Local Government Safety Capital Grant in 2016 for $300,000 for shared use of surveillance cameras to help reduce crime and increase safety and security. The coalition was turned down for the grant.

“We are in the preliminary stages of talking about forming the fire and police districts. I think at a minimum, we just need to sit down and get the conversation going in a more formal atmosphere,” Lollini said. “We just need to agree to come together to see if it is economically feasible.”

In other business, council members MaryAnn Russell and Mike Roth have turned in signed petitions to be placed on the fall ballot to retain their seats, as their terms are set to expire.

Two other seats will be open, as council members Ray Viola and Darla Kuri have decided not to run again.