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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Police Services From Weber County Sheriff's Office To Increase

An issue that will impact all Ogden Valley (and Weber County) residents was highlighted on the front page of Sunday's Standard Examiner in this Scott Schwebke article.
 Weber sheriff seeks more from cities office serves

In essence, Sheriff Terry Thompson and his staff has been evaluating the contracts between the Weber County Sheriff's Office (WCSO) and the 8 cities that the WCSO provides Police service to with the hope of treating each Weber County citizen equally.
 From the Standard:
Several factors prompted the contract study and proposed fee increases, said Thompson, including:
* The legality of requiring Weber County residents who live in cities that have police departments, like Ogden, to pay for sheriff's services through property taxes while receiving minimal benefits;
* Financial challenges resulting in a need for the sheriff's office to examine its organization and operations;
* Each contract between the WCSO and the eight cities is uniquely crafted. Some officials in the eight municipalities have expressed concern regarding the equity and fairness of their contracts in comparison to others, said Thompson. In addition, some communities pay a larger share of funds for sheriff's services than others on a per taxpayer or per capita basis, he said.
Currently, Weber County residents who live in cities with police departments pay for local law enforcement through municipal taxes and the sheriff's office services through county property taxes. However, residents who live in unincorporated Weber County and the eight contact cities pay only for sheriff's services.
"In short, some taxpayers pay for two police departments: One they use frequently, such as their city police department, and the WCSO that they use much less, if at all," said Thompson. "Other taxpayers pay only for WCSO law enforcement services which is their only police department. This is not equitable and probably not legal."
Under state law, only those services that the WCSO provides to all residents should be paid by all taxpayers, Thompson said.
The Cities have until the end of March to decide if they want to continue to have WCSO continue to provide their Police services.

The article goes on to state:
The proposal for the eight contract cities includes a cost formula based on each municipality's population and an 18-month call history.
The proposal also calls for the county to take less in property taxes from all county residents.
For example, an individual with a $200,000 home would get a $24 county tax reduction annually, said Anderson.
However, this could mean that some taxpayers in the eight contracting cities will see an increase in local taxes to fund WCSO services and an offsetting decrease in county property taxes, said Thompson.
In addition, those who live in cities that already have a police department will see a reduction in county property taxes and a net decrease in taxes overall.
"This will result in a tax shift to those who primarily benefit from the sheriff's office law enforcement services," Thompson said.
The proposal is meant to be revenue-neutral, meaning it won't provide extra funding for his office but will cover costs for services, said Thompson.
As the graphic above depicts,  in addition to the eight cities, the WCSO has included "Unincorporated areas."  This means us - unincorporated Ogden Valley.

The fee for incorporated Huntsville Town is slated to double from $28,590 to $56,425 while the fees for unincorporated areas will nearly triple, from $540,000 to $1,449,124.

The Standard has also posted a more detailed explanation from Sheriff Thompson that is available here:

Discussing county protection plans for Weber County

Sheriff Thompson explains that this is a "tax shift" rather than a tax increase, although the residents of the contract cities and unincorporated Weber County may see an overall tax increase.
Implementation of Shift in Taxes – It would not make sense for the county to pass on more of the costs of WCSO law enforcement to contract cities and unincorporated communities, while maintaining the current tax rates and collecting the same amount of revenue from all county residents.  As the burden of these costs is passed on to contract cities and unincorporated communities, the burden to the county and the general fund is lessened.  Part of this proposal is that the contract cities and unincorporated county will be required to pay more for law enforcement services, and as a result the county will take less in property taxes from these cities and all county residents.  This offset “tax shift” will mean that some taxpayers will see both an increase in local or city taxes and an offsetting decrease in county property taxes.  On the other hand, other county taxpayers, since they live in cities that already have a city police department, will see a reduction in the county property tax and a net decrease in taxes overall.  This cost formula will result in a “tax shift” to those who primarily benefit from the sheriff’s office law enforcement services making contracts fair, equitable, and legal.

In the end, when one looks at his property tax statement this fall, the line item amount for Weber County will likely decrease, while their City Property taxes will likely increase.  And it will likely be a net increase for those in Huntsville and Unincorporated Ogden Valley.


Dhitman said...

This would be a good time to find out why the Weber County Commissioners do not support enhanced delinquent property tax collection program. We have between 9 and 12 million dollars every year in Weber County in delinquent taxes, mainly from large property owners or businesses that don't pay their taxes on time because the penalty and interest is so low.This has been brought to the WCC's attention several times, and yet they do nothing to seal these loopholes. They are the pals of the large business people and not the normal taxpayer.


1. People claiming the 45% exemption on more than their primary household are costing everyone else more taxes. 

2. Claiming agricultural zoning when there are no animals or crops on the property. (many abusers)

3. Failing to pay current property taxes, by taking advantage of the almost 5 year window before any action is taken by the County. 

If Weber County was pro-active and able to collect just a third of these delinquent taxes every year, it could put 3-4 Million dollars into the County coffers instead of hammering the taxpayers for higher taxes. Most of the County's property taxpayers  pay their taxes on time. 

The County has said they don't want to go after some little old lady that is delinquent. The problem with that excuse is most of the people pay on time and the county has a tax committee that reviews the hardship cases and can provide 
exceptions if warranted.

It is the large business and property owners that Weber County is protecting. Check it out and get on the Commissioners for the lack of action.


Watchdog said...

Good Points Dhitman.  The county seems to be somewhat lax in their oversight on several issues.

Ross said...

Do we need all of the cops in the valley? More appropriate, do we need to pay for all of the cops when most of the problems during summer months are a result of the thousands of imports we attract? Ogden gets rid of their problem offenders while we pay more for police protection.

Ogden Valley said...

You are exactly right Ross.  That is the downside of being Ogden's recreation Mecca.