NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – It was October 2014 that Niles was placed in Fiscal Emergency. On Tuesday, the commission overseeing city funds passed a plan that calls for overhauling the entire police department.
The two big items approved by the Niles Financial Planning and Supervision Commission call for eliminating dispatchers and minimum staffing. That means, instead of having the minimum of four officers on duty, there could be one or two officers handling reports in the city on a particular day.
The union president for the Niles dispatchers, Jill Montevideo, said the plan is far from ideal.
“I’m pretty devastated. I feel very betrayed, actually,” she said.
The plan also calls for using the services of Trumbull County 911, instead of the Niles Dispatching Center.
“I live in Niles. I know the community, and you can’t get that kind of service when you’re sitting up in Howland and someone is dispatching for a community that doesn’t live there, doesn’t know the residents,” Montevideo said.
Montevideo said two years ago, she approached the current city administration saying she could save money, with the hope of saving the dispatchers jobs.
“I’ve literally almost cut my budget in half — no overtime,” she said. “I’m the only department in the city that’s had no overtime, no sick time.”
Rich Bailey, president of the Niles Police Patrolman’s union, said under their current contract, there is a requirement that there must be at least four officers on duty per shift. The contract does not expire until June, and he said there is no way the police union will agree to go below four officers per shift.
The commission did not set a date on when the changes will occur.
Montevideo she she hopes that by January 1, incoming Mayor Tom Scarnecchia reverses what is planned. She also plans on campaigning for the passage of a 0.5 percent income tax increase on the March ballot, which will raise money for services such as police.
“We have a whole new administration coming in,” she said. “We have a lot of good, honest, hard-working councilmen that want to be involved, that want to be accountable, and I just hope that the public gives them the opportunity and gives them a 0.5 percent increase.”
Incoming Niles Mayor Tom Scarnecchia was unable to be reached Tuesday. No one was available Tuesday at the Niles Fire Department to say whether cuts are planned there as well.