MIAMI TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) — A levy is on the ballot for Miami Township voters that would keep the police department operating.

The Miami Township Police Department is funded through two levies. The tax replacement levy on the ballot for the 2023 May Primary Election is a 5.75 mill continuous levy. It would replace the existing 5.25 mill levy, which expires at the end of 2023.

Chief Charlie Stiegelmeyer said the levy helps fund things like salaries, equipment, and supplies.

“That can go anywhere from paying for the electric utilities, paying for paper, printing, all the way to purchasing police cars, gas for police cars, and for the officers that patrol the streets. The biggest income or draw from income from this, obviously, is our personnel,” Chief Stiegelmeyer said.

Chief Stiegelmeyer said the department responded to 30,000 calls last year, and there are currently 32 sworn officers on the force.

“My number one priority is to stabilize my staff and make sure we have enough people in their cruisers, answering those radio calls,” Chief Stiegelmeyer said.

Chief Stiegelmeyer wants to add more officers to his force, but like many departments across the country, that has been difficult. The number of applicants has dropped, as well as the number of people joining the police academy.

“We have people that are getting out of a job that have been here for a long period of time. We have seasoned officers that are able to move to wherever they want to, wherever the pay or benefits are better, and there is nobody coming in behind them. So it’s a challenging time for law enforcement,” Chief Stiegelmeyer said.

The new levy would generate an additional $800,000 a year, which Chief Stiegelmeyer said will help keep his department competitive and hopefully attract and retain officers.

“It’s hard for police departments to keep good personnel because there’s so many agencies hiring. A lot of agencies are paid better than our agency, or other agencies are attracting officers and are leaving. It’s imperative for me that I maintain a good quality, professional police department,” Chief Stiegelmeyer said.

Property taxes would go up slightly. It would be about a $6.12 increase monthly or about a $73.44 increase annually per average $100,000 home evaluation. Chief Stiegelmeyer said this extra money is worth it to ensure they can keep the community safe for years to come.

“What I would ask the residents is, in the economy, in the state that we are in, with what’s going on in the world today, can we afford not to fund the police force properly, and get the resources out there that are needed to make sure the community is safe?” Chief Stiegelmeyer explained.

The original 5.25 mill levy was passed in 2013, and renewed in 2018.