The Medway Drug Enforcement Agency's 2015 budget was approved by the organization's general assembly. And with the continued surge in local drug activity, the agency's leaders were given a vote of confidence by its members.
"We have no desire to leave Medway," said Brunswick Police Chief Carl DeForest, noting the Medina County city does "get a lot of pressure" to leave Medway and join other drug agencies in its home county, but they are happy with the services.
Don Hall, Medway director, said for the 2015 operating budget, he proposed a 3 percent cost of living increase for employees, coupled with a 2 percent medical insurance increase. The general assembly approved the budget unanimously.
Salaries would make up the largest component ($453,825 in 2015, up $8,170 over 2014), with health and life insurance as the agency's second largest expense, anticipated at $125,279 next year (a $12,970 increase over 2014).
Hall said the agency will need to explore options for certain programs, such as its Drug Takeback Day next year, because of decreased funding from grants and the federal DEA, which no longer is funding take-back days.
The program, which allows residents to drop off unused or expired prescription pills, (held Sept. 27) garnered roughly 2,500 pounds of pills. The pills traditionally have been collected by the national DEA, but that agency is discontinuing the national program and no longer will cover the costs of incinerating old pills.
Hall said at $1.30 per pound, the local agency will need to decide what to do.
"It's a good program. I don't want to get rid of it," Hall said, but noted he doesn't want to "spend $5,000 to $7,000 just to burn pills."
The governing board -- composed of police chiefs involved with Medway, along with Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz -- approved the budget in October, which then went to the Medway general assembly. That body is composed of elected officials from the communities that support Medway.
The general assembly also approved the organization's policies and procedures for using Naxalone, or Narcan, the nasal spray that helps people suffering from opiate overdoses.
Larry Boggs, city manager for Rittman, added at the general assembly meeting that Medway should look at new communities that join the organization to pass a tax levy to support the agency.
"I just think we're spinning our wheels without that long-term commitment," Boggs said, as other communities decide to join.
Other municipalities, such as Wadsworth and Holmes County, left Medway in the recent past to run their own drug investigation and cited financial concerns.
Boggs also said Medway's carry-over balances year to year have been consistent. He said he would support the agency adding staff due to the increase in drug activity across Wayne County.