Unified Police bills going unpaid; businesses call fees unfair

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Funds from the first Unified Police bill have come in. A quarter of all those billed have not paid.

The Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area sent its first bills March 1. More than 43,000 residents received them; 12,000 have not paid yet. That's a $1 million delinquency.

"I'm optimistic," said Jim Bradley with the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area. "It's only been out there for two months. The population is getting used to the idea. They're learning about it."

Meanwhile, anger over the fees is still simmering. Thursday, residents and business owners showed up to tell the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Area they think the fees are unfair.

The fee amount, at $828 annually, is more than the property tax amount on the same footprint that I rent.

–- business owner Kim Hogan

A couple of small business owners object to the fee structure because they must pay as much as larger businesses. They say the fees will break their businesses.

One man owns a small fast food restaurant that is only 600 square feet. He says his nearly $1,700 fee is really hurting his bottom line.

"We are in tight times," he said. "No one knows better than the small businesses in the state of Utah. I'm willing to help and I'm willing to pay my proportionate reasonable share, and I am. This is not proportionate and it's not reasonable."

Kim Hogan runs a small auto body repair shop and says he should not pay the same police fee as much larger businesses. He says he's never had a police call to his business, and this fee is one more among many new fees his businesses shouldered over the years.

"The fee amount, at $828 annually, is more than the property tax amount on the same footprint that I rent," Hogan said. "What has happened, and what will continue to happen, is to eliminate all small businesses."

When we send out bills for $12 million ... we're going to get some responses and some glitches in the process. That's what we're working out today.

–Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area Chairman Jim Bradley

He wants an adjustment, but may be out of luck because he's grouped in the fee structure with businesses that call out the cops often.

Bradley says his team is working out the kinks.

"When we send out bills for $12 million to over 45,000 people in the unincorporated county, we're going to get some responses and some glitches in the process," Bradley said. "That's what we're working out today."

Bradley says he understands the concerns of the small businesses, but they won't look at changes to the fees structure again until next year.

"Nobody wants to pay an additional fee or additional tax, we know that. We don't want to charge one unless it's absolutely necessary, and in this case it was," he said.

To make it easier to pay, no late fee will be added for this first bill. For the next installment, credit cards will be accepted.

The committee billed $4.1 million to residents and businesses in un-incorporated Salt Lake County.

Hotels and churches have the highest percentage of payment. Convenience stores are, by far, the most delinquent category. Only 50 percent have paid.


Story compiled with contributions from Jed Boal and Randall Jeppesen.

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