TAYLORSVILLE, Utah (AP) -- City officials are looking for ways to pay for its new police department, and advertising on police cars could be part of the mix.
The City Council voted last week to sever its law-enforcement contract with Salt Lake County and have its own force patrolling streets by April 1. The Salt Lake Valley suburb is weighing whether to slap sponsor decals on police vehicles to defray an estimated $1.1 million startup fees.
"If we make this a smooth transition, we don't expect the quality of services to change," said Mayor Janice Auger.
Auger said its first police budget should be about $4.6 million, the same price Taylorsville paid under Salt Lake County for the service. She hopes some of the start-up costs can be paid with grant money but noted higher taxes or a possible franchise levy might be needed to pay for uniforms, new software and other initial costs.
Taylorsville is the largest contract city to sever ties with the sheriff's department.
The city of 59,000 residents has floated without a law-enforcement contract with the county since June 2003, when negotiations over fees bogged down.
Taylorsville Councilman Russ Wall cited "too many politicians" as the reason for the breach. He said the best offer called for three years, a 5 percent annual increase and a county option to bill for additional costs.
"How many people or businesses would sign a contract like that?" Wall said. "It was kind of being forced on us."
Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard acknowledged the dilemma.
"I share those frustrations," he said, noting the county bureaucracy has been difficult for the city. But Kennard emphasized there have been no complaints about the sheriff's service. "They just heap compliments on me and my deputies."
In fact, Taylorsville officials say they hope to hire as many sheriff's deputies as possible."
Taylorsville is seeking proposals for patrol cars and has launched a search for a police chief. The city plans to increase the police presence with 50 officers compared with the 38 or so deputies currently assigned to Taylorsville.
County Councilman Jim Bradley warned that Taylorsville residents might end up shouldering more costs, too.
"It's a foolish decision on their part, and it's counter to bringing common sense to law enforcement in this county," he said. "If they want to put their citizens at risk, then that's their decision. Or they'll have to raise taxes."
A feasibility study showed Taylorsville could save $500,000 a year with its own police force.
"My fiduciary responsibility is I need to provide the best police force I can," Auger said. "This accomplishes that mission."
Losing Taylorsville will leave the Sheriff's Office serving Bluffdale, Herriman, Holladay, Riverton and the unincorporated county.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)