By Sandy Scarmack
Herald Staff Writer
After only four months of operations, Brookfield Township police department’s impound lot has generated enough money to pay for half of the cost of building it and by next year, should be bringing in about $6,000.
Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino came up with the idea to open an impound lot next to the administration building both as a way to generate some income for the financially strapped department and also to ensure tighter control regarding vehicle requirements.
Since May, the department has netted $2,200. It cost about $5,000 to erect the lot, he said.
There haven’t been any unexpected difficulties, he said, and the decision to operate the township’s own lot rather than use space at local towing companies was based on a practice common throughout the state, he said.
“Every little bit helps. That $6,000 we raise can pay a lease payment for a year on a cruiser, or pay for fuel or help with staffing,” he said.
Faustino and township trustees agreed to put a 1.6 mill replacement levy on the November ballot, which will be the renewal of a levy first passed in 1976. If approved, it will bring in about $100,000 a year.
The November levy goal, Faustino said, isn’t to reach for the stars with funding for the department but rather take a reasonable approach to do his best to bring his budget back to where it was seven years ago.
State funding cuts have slashed his budget from $848,000 in 2006 to $750,000 this year, he said, and that has translated into a reduction in staffing and delays in fleet maintenance. Ever-increasing gas prices eat up a chunk of his budget as well, he said. Currently he pays about $34,000 a year for fuel.
The township has eight full-time patrolmen, including Faustino, and six part-tme patrolmen. Police answer about 635 calls a month, he said.
“I just want to keep it reasonable. I try to take a reasonable approach to everything. And with the impound lot, $6,000 isn’t a whole lot of money, it doesn’t make up for the amount we lost, but it’s money that I don’t have to go to the taxpayers and ask for,” he said.
Administrative assistant Erin Webber keeps meticulous records on each car in and out of the lot, he said, and he feels a lot more comfortable when a car is released from his impound lot rather than a private business. Among the many things required to pick up a car that has been impounded are proof of ownership, a current registration and license plate, proof of insurance, a valid driver’s license, and the owner must be present to sign for the vehicle.
Cars that are deemed unsafe can only be towed, not driven, from the lot, he said. Fees are a flat tow rate of $106.50, a $35 administration fee and storage fees of $25 per day for passenger vehicles and $50 a day for commercial vehicles or boats.
Vehicles that aren’t claimed within 30 days will be disposed of by the township, he said.
The township is also in the middle of a feasibility study with the city of Hubbard and Hubbard Township police departments to consider a consolidation. Right now the study is in the fact-finding stage, and there is a meeting set for September to update each municipality on the progress, he added.
“It’s something we’re looking at. But it isn’t something that will be happening, if it happens at all, immediately. We’re looking to see if it’s feasible. We have to see what problems would be involved and then decide if we’re able to resolve those problems,” he said.