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November Zoning Ballot Issue 26: Is a New $7 Million Dollar+ Police Building Wise?

Is the November 2012 Election ballot's Brecksville Zoning Issue 26 for a new Police Department building the best way to spend taxpayer money? Or do other options exist?

A zoning amendment ordinance will appear on the November election ballot in the city of Brecksville, designated Issue 26. While the ballot language for this amendment does not state it specifically, the zoning change request from 'Residential' to 'City Facilities' is so that a brand-new $7-million dollar police station might be built on the lots directly across the street from the Brecksville City Hall.

In announcing the ballot issue, Mayor Hruby said a new building was needed due to the increased number of police department employees, the upgraded equipment recently purchased, and the city's jailing needs have outgrown the current space.

A $7-million dollar police station will cost each Brecksville household $1,341. After spending that $7 million dollars, additional expenses will follow for building maintenance, cleaning crews, additional utilities, insurance, etc.

At a time when most Northeast Ohio cities and the new Cuyahoga County charter government are looking for ways to collaborate, share services, and streamline operations to reduce the cost of government, the question in front of Brecksville residents is if this expansion of the police department facilities is truly necessary.

Some facts to consider:

In 2012, Brecksville is a city of 12,712 residents. Currently, there are 42 police department employees total: 30 officers, 6 jailers, and 6 dispatchers.

In 1972, there were 9,184 residents and 16 police employees in total: 12 officers and 4 dispatchers.

So while the Brecksville population has increased just 38% since 1972, the number of police department employees has jumped 163% in that same time period; officers employed has increased 150%.

Brecksville is just 19.5 square miles, with one-third of that land area taken up by the Cleveland Metroparks. That makes Brecksville a very small city to police.

And there is almost no crime in Brecksville and never has been. See city-data.com for confirmation: the Brecksville 'crime index' hovers around 40 points year-after-year; the crime index for the average U.S. city is 319 points.

Given these fact, what other options might be considered vs. building a new $7 million dollar police department building? How about these ideas:

- Reconfigure and remodel the current police station/city hall building, eliminate the meeting space there (the Community Center has multiple spaces), move offices around, etc.;

- Collaborate with other local cities or Cuyahoga County to handle jointly all jailing and court-related functions;

- Reduce the number of police department employees to reflect the current Brecksville population and its consistently low crime statistics.

From where I sit, the City of Brecksville has a number of better options at its disposal instead of spending $7 million+ on a brand new police department building. That's why I plan to VOTE NO ON THE ISSUE 26 BRECKSVILLE ZONING AMENDMENT.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mr. Hamilton November 05, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Thank you for voicing your opinion in such a factual and seemingly non-partisan way. I hope this issue doesn't pass and doesn't come up again.

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