In a recent editorial in the Enquirer, Mr. Harris, a former city Councilman, contends that in Ohio the operation of local governments is antiquated. He points out that Hamilton County alone has 48 local governments and that each of these has a fully equipped police department. In 2009, Hamilton County taxpayers spent $275 million for these police facilities, some of which provide safety for areas less than 1 square mile.
Let’s focus upon the Mariemont and Fairfax Police Departments within the context of overlapping and duplication of law enforcement services. First, it should be pointed out that the Village of Mariemont occupies .89 square miles and the Village of Fairfax .76 square miles with a combined census of 5,103 citizens.
The Mariemont Police Department has 10 police officers and the Fairfax Police Department has 9 for a total of 19 to cover this total service area of 1.65 square miles. In 2013, Mariemont’s total expenses to maintain their Police Department were $1,248,776 (approximately one-third of the entire budget) whereas Fairfax’s Police Department cost $1,147,240.
I queried a number of friends and our educated guess is that 40 percent of cost to maintain a standalone Mariemont Police Department could be saved by merging Mariemont’s and Fairfax’s Police Departments. If you take 40 percent of Mariemont’s $1,248,776 expenditure on police protection, it comes to a yearly savings of about $499,510. And note that this is just the cost savings referable to the police department.
The next question was whether a merging of the two police departments would compromise safety. The group agreed that it would have a negligible effect upon police services and safety.
Granted, change is always easier said than done when it comes to jurisdictional and power issues, not to mention personalities. At a minimum, if the Mariemont and Fairfax Police shared the night shift coverage, it would equate to roughly $100,000 in yearly cost savings.
Just consider what the Village of Mariemont could do with a half million additional funds a year, or even a hundred thousand. Possibly, hire a part-time Village Administrator, improved street maintenance, free garbage collection (eliminate those stickers), no fee memberships in the swimming and tennis clubs, free land rent for a garden in the South 80, new recreational facilities, rejuvenation of the Historic District and lower taxes could be considered. Longer term, the Village could certainly use better parking facilities, a community center and improvements to the Municipal Building.
–Dick Wendel, MD, MBA