Janesville44.1°

Referendum proponents launch Web site

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Stacy Vogel
September 30, 2008
— Sue Gavigan has spent three years researching the town of Milton’s police department and court.

Now, her research is on the Internet for all to see.


Gavigan, a town board member, has created a Web site with her sister Diane Pett and former board member Gail Slepekis to encourage people to vote “yes” Nov. 4 to referendums asking if the town should abolish its police department and court.


“It’s a valuable tool,” Gavigan said of the Web site, www.miltontownshippoliceref.com.


Gavigan, Slepekis and Pett pored over town budgets, police reports and even officer time sheets to gather the data on the site, Pett said.


“I see those numbers in my sleep,” Pett said. “We have went over them, I can’t tell you how many times, to make sure they’re correct.”


The Web site argues the part-time police department isn’t necessary because the Rock County Sheriff’s Office patrols the town 24 hours a day. In a section called “safety,” it says the Town of Milton Police Department rarely patrols on nights or holidays.


For example, it says the department patrolled an average of 1.3 percent of the time between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. in 2007, and 14.8 percent of the time between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.


The site also addresses budget issues, saying the town has spent more than $80,000 over the past four years on the police department and court, including buying a new squad car and remodeling the police office.


“It’s just a double service that we can no longer afford,” Pett said.


Town Chairman Bryan Meyer said he hadn’t had much time to look at the Web site yet, but he didn’t see any inaccuracies.


But Meyer, a supporter of the police department and court, said the Web site was incomplete because it didn’t include a report by a citizen committee assigned to study the police department.


“They make a strong argument that we should abolish the department, and yet the most significant document isn’t on their Web site, which is the report from the committee,” he said.


Gavigan said the group didn’t put the committee report on the Web site because the report is lengthy and already available at town hall.


“We encourage people to go look at it,” she said.


The committee studied the duties of the police chief, police department and court and alternatives if they were to be abolished. It did not offer an opinion in its July report.


If the town abolishes the police department, the town could hire an enforcement officer, contract with the Rock County Sheriff’s Office for additional patrolling or hire an officer to be on-call as needed, the committee wrote.


But Gavigan argued the town doesn’t need to pay for more patrolling because the sheriff’s office already patrols the township, just as it does every other township in Rock County.


MORE INFORMATION

You can find the Web site Sue Gavigan, Gail Slepekis and Diane Pett have created about the Town of Milton referendum at www.miltontownshippoliceref.com.


For more information, call Sue Gavigan at (608) 868-2482 or e-mail info@miltontownshippoliceref.com.


To see a copy of the citizen committee report issued in July, visit Milton Town Hall, 23 First St., Milton. A copy of the report is $10.75.



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