Herriman City Council unanimously decides to withdraw from SLVLESA
Aug 30, 2017 04:45PM
By Jana Klopsch
Mayor Carmen Freeman and City Manager Brett Wood at a town hall on Aug. 8 to discuss the council’s desire to leave SLVLESA. (Destiny Skinner/Herriman City)
The Herriman City Council voted to leave the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Services Area after several town halls and public hearings. SLVLESA was created in 2007 by several leaders in the Salt Lake Valley who wanted to contribute to a regional fund that paid for police services in the various cities.
On Aug. 9, city council members decided unanimously to leave the funding mechanism, SLVLESA, that pays for the Unified Police Department in Herriman. The decision to leave SLVLESA doesn’t mean the city is leaving UPD though.
In a Town Hall the day before voting took place, city council members, Mayor Carmen Freeman and other city officials laid out the specifics for what leaving SLVLESA would mean for the city and answered resident’s questions about the process. Alan Rae, the director of finance for Herriman, said that the city has been adding a lot of money to the fund without getting the allocations they deserve back.
“[We want to leave SLVLESA so] we can decide what level of police service we can do with our resources,” Rae said. “The citizens are worried that they aren’t getting enough officers on the streets, and that’s a big concern for us. And we don’t have control over how many we have, this board does.”
SLVLESA is made up of 11 different city representatives, and Freeman is the voice for Herriman. Rae said because of the variety of needs of cities on the board, Herriman often gets neglected and hasn’t been able to keep up with the police services in the quickly growing area.
Freeman agreed with that, and said that at one point, after SLVLESA analyzed the cities and funding they had received, it was discovered that Herriman was under allocated and in need of additional police officers.
“Your allocation of officers is conditional upon the board approval,” Freeman said. “This gives us a lot more flexibility, and when we see a need we can fulfill it.”
For Herriman residents, the property taxes they pay to fund police services will stay the same monetarily. The only change is who is getting the money, which will be the city instead of SLVLESA.
This decision to leave SLVLESA isn’t one that the council took lightly or decided rashly. Discussions have been going on for more than a year and a half, and the city council members have tried to be up front with residents, as well as members of SLVLESA as they have debated about leaving it.
“They have been very agreeable,” Rae said. “We’ve been talking with their staff, and Riverton is trying to go through the same process right now. We have essentially the same agreement, and they’ve approved Riverton so we’re next.”
As Herriman has continued to grow, the money that was given to SLVLESA grew as well. The board was responsive to questions the city had, but not in their allocation of resources, Councilwoman Coralee Moser said.
“The residents like the fact that we’ll have local control,” Moser said. “We would grow and collect additional tax dollars, and that money would go to the whole entity, all of SLVLESA, and the money would be spent outside of our city.”
Freeman and other city officials all spoke positively of SLVLESA, saying it’s a good model for cities as they are starting out.
“It’s a good model, and it served its purpose in the early beginnings of Herriman when we were 10,000 residents,” Freeman said. “We’ve outgrown that model in some degree.”
When discussing the vote during the city council meeting on Aug. 9, the council members were confident in the outreach they had made to the city, and that breaking away from SLVLESA was the best thing to do for the city. A notice will be given to the SLVLESA board in October, with formal withdrawal happening in 2018.
“If we have the money coming to us and we’re making the decisions, it’s easier for the council to explain the reasons to residents,” Rae said. “We are happy with UPD, and we will continue to contract with them, but instead it will be from us to them, not SLVLESA to them.”