Now that Sturtevant’s highly successful tax incremental financing district has closed, triggering both a one-time payment to the village and increased tax revenue, trustees will start talking soon about adding officers to the police department.
Opened in 1994, the Sturtevant TIF district primarily encompasses the Renaissance Business Park, widely considered one of the most successful development districts in the state. TIF districts are specific growth tools available to municipalities that use the property taxes from commercial and industrial tenants inside the district to pay back the loans used for infrastructure like water and sewer lines and roads. Once those loans are paid in full, the district closes and the property taxes there are added to the general tax roll no different than other property owners.
Sturtevant will receive approximately $1.3 million in a lump payment, and trustees are working on a sustainable and targeted plan on how to use the money. The discussion has long included adding police officers and increasing their pay, and Chief Sean Marschke is looking forward to the needed personnel.
“The TID closure is the perfect time to address the need to hire new officers because then tax revenue continues to fund the positions,” he said.
Marschke is asking for three full-time officers, which would bring the department to 12 full-time officers and allow him to consistently staff two officers on each shift without relying on overtime. With the number of calls the SVPD handles each month averaging between 600 and 700 – the numbers are higher during the summer – the need for additional officers is immediate.
“Our officers have been doing an excellent job with fewer resources,” he added. “We’ve been filling in with part-time officers, but with our calls going up, it’s like a band-aid on a bullet wound. We have some officers working twice the number of hours they should to keep the village covered, and it’s starting to take its toll.”
Marschke said there are two primary reasons for needing more officers; more visible patrols throughout the village reduce crime overall and reducing turnover saves the village money in the long run while capitalizing on veterans’ experience.
Village President Steve Jansen agrees the village needs more officers, and he points to the higher population overall but especially during the day when workers stream into the village to work at companies like Cree, Bombardier, Andis and at Gateway Technical College.
“The village has grown so much over the last 10 years or so, but we have fewer police officers now than we did back when the chief started,” he explained. “Chief has done an outstanding job over the last several years with a shoestring budget, but now’s the time to get some more officers on board.”
Marschke is also asking board members to consider raising officer pay to make Sturtevant more competitive with neighboring agencies.
“Our officers make between $10,000 and $15,000 less than other departments,” he said.
Sturtevant residents agree. In a Racine County Eye poll last March, villagers agreed that TIF district funds should help pay for new officers as well as increase their salaries.
Jansen said upcoming budget discussions will definitely include new officers, but he sees more of a gradual expansion.
“We will take this up with the new budget, but I could see adding new officers over 18 months or so,” he stated. “But, you know, we’ll see what the board wants to do, but I support the chief and his officers and making sure we’re doing right by our residents as well.”