Police Merger Talk Moves Forward in Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Rayland

YORKVIILLE — The attorney who represents two of three villages that are considering a joint police force is writing police force agreements for officials in those communities to review.

Council members from Yorkville, Tiltonsville and Rayland met Thursday to discuss the task force. In the end, they directed Edward Littlejon, who is the solicitor for both Yorkville and Tiltonsville, to write legal agreements that officials said would be the next step in the process.

All members of each village council agreed that the combined police coverage would be beneficial to the three villages that sit along Ohio 7 and straddle the Belmont and Jefferson county line. The villages would save money in the combined effort, they said. But officials still said they want to see how the details of a joint police force will look on paper.

“We have to make sure we are all on the same page and this will really work after we get the (legal) agreements together,” said Yorkville Mayor Karen Vargo. “It’s been legal for us to help each other out like we have been, but we are collaborative and we want to make sure we do this right. We just need to get a legal opinion from Edward.”

Yorkville Police Chief John Morelli and Tiltonsville Police Chief Jerry Davis also would need to come to an agreement on scheduling the officers for coverage.

Rayland Mayor Tammy Morelli said the village has $500 a month to contribute and said she would like to do funding through levies and grants.

“One of our residents actually asked why we never put in a police levy,” Morelli said.

“We didn’t do a police levy because we did things to be used for general funds, because we don’t even have police. What if we had a police levy and never found a police officer?”

John Morelli said it would be beneficial for Rayland to propose a police levy for additional funding. Tammy Morelli agreed this could be done for the village.

“We will need to know that Rayland is going to have money at some point for this,” John Morelli said.

During a Tiltonsville Village Council meeting earlier this month, council discussed the topic of police coverage. Tiltonsville Police Chief Jerry Davis was the only full-time officer in Tiltonsville and works Mondays through Thursdays, but the village recently hired another officer. Yorkville has three full-time officers along with part-time officers. For regular scheduled shifts, Yorkville has 1,038 residents to one officer; Tiltonsville has 1,312 residents to one officer; and Rayland does not have any officers for 396 people.

At the meeting, Yorkville councilman Mike Robey said the total cost of the police coverage would amount to $278,000, with $111,000 for Tiltonsville; $111,000 for Yorkville; and $56,000 for Rayland.

The villages already work with each other on other issues. They formed the YTR Coalition in 2014 to apply for shared grants.

The next meeting to discuss police coverage is at 7 p.m. July 12 at the Tiltonsville Mayor’s Office.