Wayne considers tax hike to hire more full-time cops
Wayne residents may be asked in June to increase property taxes to pay for hiring more full-time police officers.
Village officials revealed that during an online town hall meeting Saturday morning, called to discuss the status of the police department serving the town of about 2,400 residents. The police chief is retiring in April, and at least four other officers are leaving.
"If you want a police department, you are going to have to find additional dollars to get it," Trustee Pete Connolly said. Connolly is chairman of a village board committee that oversees police matters.
Connolly said village officials ideally want a chief, a commander, eight full-time officers and four to six part-time officers to provide 24-hour coverage. Doing that, plus possibly having a community service officer, would cost the village an additional $700,000 a year, he said.
He estimated it would cost the owner of a $300,000 home $455 more per year in property taxes.
In 2021, the village collected about $772,000 in property taxes.
Currently the village has two full-time officers and nine part-time officers. About 20 years ago, it had five full-time officers and an unknown number of part-timers, Connolly said. It began relying more on part-time officers after voters in 1998 approved creating a police pension fund. Part-timers are not in the pension fund.
Chief John Naydenoff noted that departments everywhere are having trouble hiring police officers. Wayne's part-timers typically are people who are full-time officers elsewhere or are retired officers, he said.
But police departments are starting to prohibit their officers from taking on second gigs as part-time officers, Naydenoff said, particularly because of concerns about liability and officer decertification under provisions in a 2021 state criminal justice reform act.
If an officer does something at the part-time job that results in losing certification, that officer also won't be able to work at the full-time job.
Part-time officers typically work two to five years, Naydenoff said, and scheduling them can be difficult. Some retired officers, he said, don't want to work holidays or overnight shifts.
"We have to go to more full-time, supplemented by part-time," he said.
Last year, the village contracted with the sheriffs' offices in Kane and DuPage counties to respond to calls between midnight and 6 a.m.
Connolly said there is no guarantee the sheriffs will continue to provide that service once contracts expire, and that the $50 per call the DuPage sheriff is charging is a nominal rate that he expects will increase if the contract is extended beyond July.
The contracts are only for calls, not routine patrols.
At least 124 people attended the meeting by Zoom.
"Wayne is too small to have a bloated police department like this," one resident said, urging officials to consider outsourcing police work.
Another resident noted a general fund tax increase could be spent on anything, not just hiring police officers.
The village board has until April 11 to vote on placing a referendum on the June 28 primary ballot.