By Damon Huff, Champion Media –
Aberdeen Village officials are hoping for the passage of a police tax levy they say will help the village fund a new administration building, among other things.
The Village of Aberdeen administrative building houses the village offices and police department. It was also built in 1939 and is facing significant wear-and-tear issues.
“It’s been in bad shape for a while,” said Aberdeen Mayor Jason Phillips.
The building suffers from several issues including cracked walls, mold, and leaky ceilings. Water damage can be seen in the police department as well as huge deterioration in the former school gym connected to the village offices. Officials say it is more cost effective to tear down the existing building and build a new one.
“It’s come to the point where the structural integrity of the building has come into question,” said Police Chief Fred Hampton. “They will make repairs and they don’t hold up. It’s becoming progressively and progressively worse.”
According to Councilwoman Sherri Stafford, a formal fiscal officer who was asthmatic had to have shots before she even could enter the building. Hampton said if he has to go into the police evidence room for an extended amount of time he wears a breathing respirator for his own protection.
Village council has been looking to replace the building for a while now. In fact, according to Stafford, it is the very first issue listed in the village’s five-year plan.
According to officials, the plans to build a new facility could begin or end with the proposed police tax levy.
“We’ve got commitments across the board to help us on this,” said Councilwoman Billie Eitel. “We have the land. We have commitment from the USDA. We have commitment from Kelly Cole in Georgetown for a possible $200,000 grant. We have everything in line. All that needs to be done is to pass the levy so we have the capacity to pay the loan back.”
Officials say a police levy would not just help the police.
Eitel said the five mil levy will help free up other funds which can be used to help with the administrative building and other projects.
“It’s going to help pave streets, help get rid of this building and help the police department too,” Eitel said. “It’s not solely for the police.”
Hampton said Aberdeen is one of the few villages in Brown County that does not have a police levy. He said that a 1 percent income tax is the only source of funding for the police.
“That won’t even cover police salaries,” Phillips said.
According to Hampton, a local tax is more visible to the taxpayer than a federal or even state tax.
“You see where your money goes,” Hampton said. “On the local level, you’ll be able to see how this levy is spent. And it’s not only going to be the police. It’s going to free up money for the streets. For infrastructure. You’re going to see a lot of things be accomplished if we are successful with this levy.” Hampton said the goal is to make Aberdeen a better place.
“[Aberdeen] is a jewel. Our goal is to put a little shine on it,” Hampton said. “How many people stepped over the Hope Diamond before someone picked it up, gave a little polish to it, and said, “Holy moly, I’ve got the Hope Diamond!” Everything is right there for us. We just have to put a little polish to it.”
Phillips said that every place has a past, but he and village officials are looking forward instead of back.
“We have to work together,” Phillips said. “Everybody is going to have our differences, but we all have to come together as a family and get it done. Our biggest goal is to make the community come first.”