As mentioned in the Lower Taxes and Fees issue, I’ve led the way in getting our city out of the countywide service area (SLVLESA), so that we can contract and pay directly with Unified Police Department (UPD). We will still receive the same great service from UPD, however we will have a much greater level of local control in the ability of adding more officers and controlling property tax increases.
More Local Control
With my time on the UPD and SLVLESA boards over the last couple of years, it became apparent to me that the countywide service area model would not be the best financial model for us going forward. I saw the following weaknesses:
- We bring in enough property tax within our own borders to cover contracting directly with UPD, yet SLVLESA needed to increase taxes 9.5% this year and forecasting 4%+ increases every year for the next 5 years to just keep even with the costs in the balance of the service area. This increase brings no new officers to Riverton.
- The officers per thousand ratio is almost 50% higher in areas outside of Riverton and Herriman
- SLVLESA only has property tax revenue to pay for the police services of those in the service area. Moving to a city contract could provide additional revenue sources such as sales and franchise tax that can help defray the costs of inflationary increases in subsequent years.
- Riverton’s voting interest was seriously diluted this year with the addition of 6 more metro townships, going from 1 of 5 to 1 of 11. Some of these townships have just 300 people in them, yet now have the same vote as Riverton on the SLVLESA board.
For these and other reasons, I worked with our state representative to draft HB 229, because although it took just a vote of the council to annex into SLVLESA back in 2011, state law required a vote of the people in just every other year to get out of the service area. This made no sense to me and wanted the law to be consistent. HB 229 passed and the council has unanimously voted to leave SLVLESA by the end of this year. The council will also be taking steps to create a replacement service area just within our city borders so as to have the same dedicated property tax for law enforcement. This should help us avoid future property tax increases and give us a greater level of control over hiring officers as needed, saving taxpayers potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars.