By Devese “Dee” Ursery
The city of Troy will increase its tax levy by about 4.9%, just under the threshold to trigger a Truth in Taxation hearing, but the actual amount involved is relatively small compared to the overall budget.
Unlike some taxing entities, the city has multiple revenue streams and is not dependent on levies to garner the bulk of its funds. City officials said the 4.9% increase equates to about $85,000. The tax levy in 2021 was $1,715,500 and in 2022 will be $1,800,500, as passed by ordinance at the meeting.
Also related to taxation, the city will abate a tax to fund a $10,000,000 bond for improvements to the water system issued in 2016. Revenues from the water department paid for the bond payments and the tax is not needed in the upcoming budget.
Police Chief Brent Shownes, in his monthly activity report for October, showed the police department handled 1,399 incidents. That is up 256 incidents during this same time last year. The police department made 382 traffic stops resulting in 226 citations, collecting $1,239 in fines and fees.
Shownes also reported that on Saturday night an altercation broke out between two juvenile groups at Spin City. A knife was pulled on one teen and Troy police took into custody and petitioned the offending teen, which is standard procedure for juveniles.
“Adults are arrested and juveniles are petitioned,” he said.
Before turning it over to Officer Tony Luther, Shownes thanked Troy residents and businesses for their many donations for this year’s Shop with Cop program. Shop with a Cop is an annual event where local law enforcement assist in taking children shopping for Christmas presents.
Luther, who has taught crisis intervention for the Troy Police Department for the past 12 years. spoke of a new initiative that the police department has started which tries to build a rapport with veterans dealing with some life issues. Operation Warfighters came about this past summer while responding to a mental health call involving a veteran suffering with PTSD. He was paranoid and did not want to talk to the police.
“We had enough to take him in as an involuntary admission, but we wanted to let him know that we were there to help, not hurt him,” Luther said. “It took nearly three hours talking to him, trying to gain his confidence and trust. In the end, he was given a summons and the situation was handled without incident.”
Operation Warfighter, No One Fights Alone is a two-pronged program. The first prong involves a mentorship program. This would be a list of veterans that would be available to talk and mentor veterans in crisis. Officers in the field would call the station and then get transferred to a mentor
There is currently a list of veterans that are ready and willing to talk or just lend an ear to a fellow veteran that may be in crisis.
“The idea is that when we’re on a mental health call or any kind of call involving a veteran, help is a phone call away,” Luther said. “The police department would be the liaison between the mentors and veterans in need. Sometimes on the street as police officers it’s hard for us to build a rapport with the veterans, especially those who were deployed because we don’t know what they have been through.”
It doesn’t take away from the arrest factor, he said. If a crime is committed the officers hands are tied.
The second prong to this program are the business cards. The police department has business cards that they would pass out to veterans that they engage with in the field. On the front of the cards are the logos of the Troy police Department and local VFW Post 976. On the back, a QR code loaded with the phone numbers of all sorts of resources for the veterans.
Luther said the idea of the QR code is that it can be updated without any interruption.
If new resources arise they are simply added to the list and the list updated.
The future of the Operation Warfighters program is limitless with the option and ease of updating the mentor and resource list. The next plan is to meet with the Vietnam Veterans Club, present it to them, and see if any of them would like to join the mentor list, according to Luther.
Councilman Sam Italiano volunteered to be a part of the Vietnam veteran mentorship list, on the spot.
“As far as law enforcement, we just want to be the liaison to getting them the help that they need and deserve,” Luther said.
In other news from the meeting, Mayor David Nonn announced that Frieden’s Church is having its first annual Festival of Trees on Dec. 2-4. All proceeds will go to the Triad Strong Club.
Triad Strong is a new organization created for the Triad School District committed to providing help to students, staff, and families in the school district in times of difficulty.
A new deputy clerk was appointed by the city council. Heather Klueter, the current administrative assistant clerk, will take on deputy clerk duties as well. She started that post on Nov. 21. Her duties will include permitting solicitors, and licensing video gaming terminals.
Reports from last Wednesday’s Madison County Board meeting show a grant was passed to fund the roundabout project at 162 and Old Troy Road. There is currently no timeline for when the project will begin. County Engineer Adam Walden is trying to lock up dates with the Lochmueller Group and he will let the Board know as soon as possible, city officials said.
Jay Keeven, city administrator, reported that revenues are still coming in strong for the month of October, with a balance of over $5 million in the city’s General Fund, alone. He also reported that there were a few surprises with water and sewer, but those funds are still good as well.
“Financially, we are in pretty good shape,” Keeven said.