Aurora -- City leadership must ensure that the police department "will be funded at the levels that address the needs, changes and growth that Aurora experiences annually," Mayor James Fisher said.
That's why Issue 7, a five-year, 1.2-mill safety levy that would generate about $690,000 a year, is appearing on the Nov. 5 general election ballot, he said.
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay an extra $37 a year if the levy is approved.
"On average, a homeowner will pay only $84 [more] per year," Fisher said.
It would pay for the salaries of four new police officers and the technology needs that would improve the department's operating efficiencies, he stressed.
"A 'yes' vote for Issue 7 would allow another officer to be assigned to work in the schools, additional officers assigned to the detective bureau and the re-establishment of the police department's community enhancement team," he said.
The issue was defeated in the May primary election.
Fisher said the levy is returning to the ballot because "less than 9 percent of the registered voters went to the polls [in the May primary election]. That is not a representative sample of our voters. You're not going to make decisions based on less than 9 percent of our voters.
"Providing the required safety on a consistent basis for Aurora residents is a key priority for city leadership," Fisher said. "That responsibility cannot be compromised today or in the future."
Fisher said Aurora is "a dynamic small town whose population growth is outpacing the county and state. With this type of environment, the safety responsibilities that go with a city that exemplifies a good place to raise a family represent a huge responsibility for city leadership and the need for an investment from the residents."
ALSO, ISSUE 7 would "insulate, or protect, our police department from any future tax revenue shortfalls, unexpected emergency spending and any bad spending decisions," he said.
In 2000, the city of Aurora employed 24 law enforcement officers. The population that year was 13,556, translating to 8.85 officers per 5,000 residents.
During 2007, the city of Aurora employed 27 law enforcement officers, or 9.3 officers per 5,000 residents, he said. During this time, the city created a "community enhancement team" focused on citizen complaints and, through the use of department statistics, targeted high crime and traffic crash locations.
The following reflects the results, he said: Traffic crashes resulting in injuries were down 44 percent, and a variety of serious types of crimes were at a three-year low.
In 2010, two police officers accepted early retirement offers, returning the department to its 2006 staffing number. The increase in population resulted in a ratio of only eight officers per 5,000 residents. So since the end of the city's "best practices safety year," Fisher said theft crimes and traffic-related activities increased.
"Workloads and the diversity in workloads have changed significantly, forcing the reallocation of patrol coverage and followup investigative work," he said. "A 'yes' vote for Issue 7 will restore the department to 2007 staffing levels."
The city's current population is about 16,000 residents and the ratio of officers per 5,000 residents will be 9.3, he said, adding the general fund budget cannot support the long-term needs of the police department.
"I'm asking the residents to vote 'yes' for Issue 7," he said. "Satisfying the safety expectations of the residents of Aurora is essential today and every day."
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC