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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Police Round-Up: Door-to-door solicitors, New 911 Service Fee, Archery Ordinance, Town Hall Meeting




Door-to-door soliciting, a new 911 service fee, and an upcoming town hall meeting have all been on the FTPD’s docket the past two weeks. Here’s your Police Round-up:


Door-to-door Solicitors

FTM broke the story Monday behind the group of solicitors going door to door requesting donations, the Cincinnati Restoration Church. In that report, it was revealed that the organization has just recently incorporated door-to-door solicitation into its fundraising strategy.

In the wake of this summer’s string of break-ins throughout the city — including one particular group using door-to-door solicitation as a front — several citizens have voiced concern across Facebook and other social media platforms.

"We're aware of the burglaries and that people might be scared to open their doors,” said Martha Oliver, administrator of the Cincinnati Restoration Church, to FTM’s Mark Collier, "but we've had more good feedback than bad.” So far, Oliver has found that Fort Thomas demonstrates significant generosity toward their cause.

And, as FTM also reported last week, the organization has acquired all the appropriate permits to conduct the door-to-door soliciting. The group is now on their third consecutive permit allowing them to solicit, this most recent permit being issued preemptively through the remainder of 2013. 

City Administrator Don Martin confirmed on Friday that the permit requires a current, state-issued I.D. and a background check. FTPD Lt. Rich Whitford has confirmed that anyone going door-to-door under the permit’s jurisdiction has been vetted with a background check prior to issuing any permit to the organization.


911 Service Fee Change

A new 911 service fee will be included with your 2013 Campbell County tax bill. The current 911 service fee structure, $3 per month per landline to a residence, will be replaced by an annual fee of $45 charged to each occupied individual residential and each individual commercial unit located upon a parcel of property. The property owner is responsible for paying the fee when paying yearly taxes (even if the property has tax-exempt status).

The change in the 911 fee structure was approved by the Campbell County Fiscal Court in August. The tax revenue collected with this year's county tax cycle will fund 2014 dispatch services. 

According to a press release issued by Campbell County administrators, the fee structure was changed to accommodate for the decreased number of landlines being utilized: “Telephone landlines are being replaced by wireless telephones and other technologies, and the monthly fee on landlines is no longer an adequate source of revenue.”

Alternative solutions to the deficit were considered but found unworkable. The fee cannot be supplemented by wireless phone services because fees on wireless phones are controlled at the state level, and local governments are prohibited from charging fees to wireless phone services.

An increase on property tax was also considered. However, the increase in property tax rates needed to accommodate the necessary funds would exceed the amount those rates can increase without requiring a public vote (4%). 

There are a couple of exceptions to the new fee structure. If a unit is vacant on November 1, 2013, no fee is due for that unit, and the property owner may subtract $45 per empty unit from the amount due for that property. Rental units are also eligible for a 50% credit, but this credit is only available in 2013. 

Concern over the new fee structure has already begun, prompting Campbell County Judge-Executive Steve Pendery to recommend an appeals board to address confusion that might arise. Campbell County Fiscal Court approved Pendery’s recommendations of Matt Elberfeld, county finance director, Cindy Minter, county director of planning and zoning, and Hank Pogue, Fort Thomas resident and real estate owner.

The Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Apartment Association filed a complaint in Campbell County Circuit Court in September, arguing that Kentucky's Constitution does not grant the county authority to charge a 911 property tax fee. The lawsuit will not prevent this year's fee revenues from being collected.

According to the County, without the new fee structure, dispatch services would stop receiving funding one year from now. The 911 fee pays for emergency dispatch services for police, fire, and emergency medical services throughout Campbell County.

Residents who believe they have been billed for an incorrect number of units on their property may file an appeal. Those who pay their 911 service fee and later discover they were eligible for a credit or other exception may file for a refund.

For more information, email questions to webinquiry@campbellcountyky.org.


Archery Ordinance

Lt. Whitford stated that the FTPD anticipates no new issues arising and no new measures or tactics being necessary with the new expansion of bow hunting allowances within city limits.

Mayor Mary Brown cast the tie-breaking vote last week to approve new expansions to the city's bow hunting ordinance. These expansions include adding 93 days to the hunting season, and allowing for adjacent lots to combine to meet the 3 acres required to be an eligible hunting space.


Heroin Town Hall Meeting

FTPD Officer Chris Goshorn will be among the speakers scheduled to appear at next week's town hall meeting to discuss the heroin epidemic that has recently swept through Northern Kentucky. The town hall meeting is part of a larger series of town hall meetings that have taken place across the region in recent weeks

Other speakers will include Steve Pendery, Campbell Co. Judge Executive, Ashel Kruetzkamp, St. Elizabeth - Fort Thomas ED Nurse Manager, Jason Merrick, NKY People Advocating Recovery, Chris Wulfeck, EMT FTFD, Dr. Mark Schweitzer, Campbell Co. Coroner, Darren Smith, NKY Drug Strike Force, Jim Liebetrau, local pharmacist, and Charlotte Wethington, recovery advocate.

The meeting will be held at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at 1031 Alexandria Pike, Thursday November 7th at 7 p.m.

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