Taxpayers Assoc. Recommends Assessing Cities Jail Booking fFes

Taxpayers Assoc. Recommends Assessing Cities Jail Booking fFes

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FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) -- Davis County could discourage police from sending suspects to the county jail by charging cities a misdemeanor booking fee for cases in which people instead could just be cited, the Utah Taxpayers Association suggests.

Mike Jerman, vice president of the advocacy group, said Utah County threatened police departments with a similar charge earlier this year.

As a result, the jail went from 85 percent capacity to 69 percent, said Lt. Mark Beals at the Utah County Jail.

Utah County Commissioner Steve White said a $50 fee would have been charged for arresting people on charges such as public urination, disorderly conduct or petty shoplifting. He said people were being booked for failing to pass "an attitude test."

"We didn't want to be spending labor and booking somebody who was going to be released by a deputy within a few hours," he said.

The county dropped the fee plan after police departments reduced the number of bookings by about 50 people per day.

"Basically by doing that, they postpone building a new jail or expanding the current one by five years," Jerman said.

Davis County Sheriff Bud Cox said such a fee may not be legal, and bookings were reduced by about 50 per day simply by asking police to instead issue citations when possible on misdemeanor cases.

"I merely asked for it and got the result. And that's been over a year," he said.

Cox said any fee would be passed on to taxpayers through the cities.

However, Jerman said, "If the intent ... is to discourage cities from bringing in people that shouldn't be jailed, there is no additional tax."

Commissioner Carol Page said the fee is unnecessary and is a hard-handed approach to the problem.

"I can't imagine those issues can't be worked out without threatening anybody," she said.

Cox said the taxpayer association is trying to postpone or avoid a tax hike to build a new facility. He doesn't think that will be possible.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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