Draper eyes $1.6M property tax increase to boost public safety

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DRAPER — Officers' lives are constantly on the line as they protect and serve their communities.

Police work is an extremely dangerous job and firefighters face their own hazards.

With departments facing hiring and retention challenges, Draper City is eyeing a $1.6 million property tax increase to make salaries more competitive while adding some key positions in its police and fire departments.

"We're never going to be the highest-paid police department in the valley, but I'd like to be competitive," Draper Mayor Troy Walker told KSL-TV during an interview Monday. "We need a tax increase to cover ongoing police benefits, fire benefits and pay. That's really what it is."

If the proposed property tax increase is approved Tuesday by the City Council as part of a tentative new fiscal year budget, it would mean a $50.99 increase per year or $4.25 per month for a home valued at $500,000; $77.91 per year or $6.49 per month for a home appraised at the city's median value of $764,000; $101.97 per year or $8.50 per month for a $1 million home and $152.96 per year or $12.75 per month on a $1.5 million house.

Where the funds would go

According to the city's plan, $500,000 would go toward police pay adjustments, $400,000 would go to fire pay adjustments, $326,000 would add three new firefighter positions, $200,000 would go toward adding a police chief deputy, $163,000 would pay for a fire training captain position and $40,000 would go toward making a records specialist position full-time.

Even with the increase, Walker said Draper would still boast one of the lowest property tax rates in Salt Lake County.

According to the city’s plan, $500,000 would go toward police pay adjustments.
According to the city’s plan, $500,000 would go toward police pay adjustments. (Photo: Tanner Siegworth, KSL-TV)

"So (it's) not a lot of actual money that you're going to spend — not even a full McDonald's run anymore," Walker said.

Walker said the money is necessary to be able to continue to retain good employees while competing for new candidates.

"The number of people who want to become police officers — it has gone down," Walker said. "Good police officers, good firefighters — you want to keep them."

If the City Council approves a tentative fiscal year budget including the increase Tuesday night, officials said there would then be a public hearing on the tentative budget before the Community Reinvestment Agency on June 4.

Early reviews of the proposal have seemed favorable. "I think the police have a dangerous job and they deserve to get paid well," one resident told KSL.

Another said, "Five to $8 a month — I think that's worthwhile. And with the way that Draper's growing, we probably need added resources."

Walker said he was confident the additional money would be significant for public safety in the city.

"It's enough to make the difference," Walker said. "It's enough to solidify our public safety and the pay and to keep good officer and firefighters — it's enough to do it."

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Andrew Adams
Andrew Adams is an award-winning journalist and reporter for KSL-TV. For two decades, he's covered a variety of stories for KSL, including major crime, politics and sports.


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