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Police chief wants impound lot

Andy Ouriel • May 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM

The Perkins police chief will have to tap into his inner car salesman to get township trustees on board with a proposed impound lot.

In asking trustees for $50,000 of general fund money to build the lot, Chief Ken Klamar has presented a seemingly sweet selling point: It’s a money maker.

When the township’s officers seize vehicles after drug arrests or other incidents, they send the cars to area impound lots. The vehicles sit there until the case is wrapped up or an official signs off on the release.

Klamar wants to build the impound lot so the township can store seized vehicles, ultimately charging the vehicles’ owners for daily storage or other fees. It’s a potential source of revenue for the police department, but Klamar needs $50,000 in seed money to make the plan a reality.

Township trustee Jim Lang said it’s a long shot.

“I’ll tell you straight up — I’ll tell him I’m not in favor of building an impound lot” Lang said.

The trustees might discuss the issue at tonight’s regular meeting, although Klamar won’t be there because he’s on vacation.

Trustees have already approved Klamar’s request for the $50,000 for the impound lot, but they haven’t approved the actual plans for the lot, Lang said.

“We said we would look at it, so we (agreed) to give it to him,” Lang said. “We have not approved him actually doing it. Apparently he put that (request) in last year also, and they approved it then. They just said we approved the money but not him actually building it. We wanted more details on it. I already told him I’m not in favor of it. I just think there’s too much of a liability”

Lang said an impound lot can cause new problems, such as cars sitting on the lot for extended periods and rusting away. Lang knows this can become a problem because some years ago township officials actually had trouble tracking seized vehicles that had been sitting in local impound lots for years.

Lang is also worried about taking business away from those lots.

“Others have invested the money — they have the lot, they have the fence, they have the cameras” Lang said. “Let them take care of it”

Klamar’s request for general fund money comes about a year after township residents overwhelmingly approved a property-tax levy generating funds exclusively for the police department.

Township officials campaigned on how the levy would generate about $1.9 million a year, from 2014 through 2018. They also said the money would replenish staffing levels and revive services that had been cut in a budget crunch in early 2013.

In essence, the police department would no longer need the township’s everyday operating money, as the force would have its own revenue source. This was a major selling point township officials trumpeted during their levy campaign.

Klamar said his department’s revenue from the levy is about $1.9 million, although there’s also about $300,000 from various other sources, such as the crash-cash program that bills at-fault drivers causing car collisions who aren’t township residents.

“With other projected revenues, I am around $2.1 million to $2.2 million,” Klamar said. “The need for money from the general fund existed, and the board agreed to move this amount”

Trustees have already agreed to give Klamar $50,000 from the general fund to help pay for new cruisers. His request for money to build an impound lot means the police department would effectively using $100,000 of general fund money this year.

Lang isn’t keen on the idea.

“We basically said, ‘We might take a look at it,’ but don’t count on it” Lang said.

And at least one resident is somewhat troubled about the proposal.

“It’s a concern if they’re taking money that could be used for the highway department,” township resident Cheryl Best-Wilke said. “With the poor condition of the roads and all the overtime for the snow plowing this year, that would be a concern”

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