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City Council considers sources to fund two new police officers within next biennium

Sandy City Council met Monday, May 20, to consider how to make up for a budget shortfall in the Sandy Police Department within the upcoming biennium.

To address the original shortfall of $370,000, a public safety fee was proposed, with the hope of funding two additional police officers. The proposed fee is estimated to start at $1.98 per month for single and multi-family residences and $5.98 per month for commercial and industrial customers. The fee would increase in the 2020-21 fiscal year to $4.38 per month for families and $13.22 per month for businesses.

If implemented, the charge could appear on customer bills as soon as July 25.

A public hearing is set for the June 3 city council meeting to discuss the budget and proposed new fee. The 7 p.m. meeting will follow a work session at 6 p.m. in council chambers, 39250 Pioneer Blvd., Sandy.

On May 6, the Budget Committee moved to find funds to hire a traffic officer for two years, effective after July 1, 2019. Funding would also pay for a lieutenant officer for one year of the biennium, effective after July 1, 2020. The committee stipulated, however, that revenue was to come from outside funding sources only, rather than plundering already tight departmental budgets.

The council has considered a utility fee, public safety fee or an operating levy in the past, but on Monday it was the direct purpose and expediency of a public safety fee that appealed to most councilors.

"Our target was to find a fee schedule that would generate that $370,000 needed," City Manager Jordan Wheeler told Council. Wheeler also suggested that a "phased approach" to implementing a fee may be possible since the committee's suggested plan outlined an option of staggered hiring.

Councilors reached a consensus to attempt funding both officer positions sooner rather than later, at an approximate cost of $560,000.

Councilors suggested starting the fee schedule at the 2020-2021 rate to expedite hiring.

"If we're going to have to go down the path of a fee, we need to talk about why we're doing it," Pulliam said earlier. "I don't know if there's a more important core function of our city than to provide a safe environment for our citizens. The other reason I favor a public safety fee is that as our community grows and gets more citizens, so does our funding, which allows our police department to continue to expand our police force to fit our growing community."

Councilors discussed looking into assistance programs for residents on a fixed income, who could be financially burdened by the additional fee.

A funding source for that service would also have to be researched.


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