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City Hall – 7505 South Holden Street • Midvale, UT 84047
By Mayor Marcus Stevenson
Let’s talk about policing - specifically Midvale’s history and future with the Unified Police Department (UPD). Before I dive deeper into our history with UPD, the financial challenges we face as a city, and our proposed reforms to improve UPD, I want to point out that Midvale City is extremely appreciative of our officers that do incredibly hard work to keep our community safe. Midvale City believes in the UPD model, but we also feel financial and governance reforms are necessary to ensure the organization remains stable and affordable.
HISTORY WITH UPD
When the Midvale City Council voted in 2011 to join forces with the newly formed Unified Police Department, it was because we were going to save money and receive high-quality service. The UPD model allows municipalities, townships, and Salt Lake County to share services, and therefore share costs, which in turn would allow Midvale to provide law enforcement at a lower cost to our residents than we could on our own. When Midvale first joined UPD, there were several other cities that were part of the organization such as Holladay, Herriman, Riverton, Taylorsville, in addition to unincorporated Salt Lake County and the townships such as Magna, Kearns, and Millcreek (before it was a city). Since we joined UPD, Millcreek transitioned from a township to a city and continued its participation with UPD. During that same time Herriman, Riverton, and, most recently, Taylorsville, all left to form their own police departments. As cities have left and the organization has gotten smaller, we’ve seen the cost of shared services go up significantly. Because of these cost increases, and the perception that greater cost controls were needed, in 2020 Midvale conducted a study that looked at our ability to start its own police department. With this data the City Council decided to vote on whether to stay with Unified Police or start our own department – we ultimately voted to stay. While there were different opinions among the City Council members at that time, the study conducted by the city indicated that there would not be cost savings from forming our own police department and there could also be a decline in service. Since the 2020 vote, significant changes have occurred in law enforcement nationally that have affected us locally, and thereby inflating the cost of law enforcement and putting pressure on communities to find the necessary funding. As an example, there have been law enforcement “wage wars” that have driven up the cost to provide police services. In fact, about 85% of UPD’s entire budget is comprised of wages and benefits, which means most of the cost increases we’ve seen are directly related to increased wages for officers. With these changes, from this time last year to now, our member fee to Unified Police has increased by about $2 million – an increase of more than 20%. This increased cost for law enforcement is in large part the reason why we passed a 7.3% property tax increase this year, which allowed us to maintain police services and other critical services our city provides. Ultimately, the increase we experienced over the last year, and the increases we’ve experienced the last several years, led us to have more discussions on
how to improve cost controls, transparency, and governance to ensure that UPD remains financially sustainable for our city and residents. On August 9th, our City Council decided to pursue UPD reforms that they felt will support the long-term stability of the organization, as well as continue high-quality law enforcement services for our community.
Why we Believe in the Shared Services Model
With UPD’s shared services model, all the UPD member communities share costs for specialized teams such as the Special Victims Unit and the Violent Crimes Unit. In smaller police departments, you may find that your patrol officer is also your homicide detective, but they likely have less specialized training to do the job well. With the shared services model, we have officers who specialize in certain areas, which means they become experts in their field. A police force is kind of like an insurance policy, but if it’s your family member that’s a victim of a heinous crime, I believe we would all want the best insurance policy possible to have the smartest, most capable, and the most highly trained officers we can get to work on the case. Fortunately, UPD allows us just that.
OUR ISSUES & REFORMS
During the City Council meeting on August 9th, there was an understanding that the shared services model is the right approach, but the City Council also wanted to have more control over the organization. The council decided on four basic reform areas that focus on cost control, political control, and local control.
Reform #1: Budget Process Changes & Cost Controls One of the biggest appeals of having our own police department is that we would have more control of the amount we spend on policing each year. Currently, as Mayor, I sit on the UPD board with 10 other board members. If those members vote in favor of a budget increase that Midvale cannot afford, we are still stuck paying our portion of the bill. This year, the bill that Midvale City will pay is about $11.7 million. With our own department, we could set the amount we are willing to pay and accept the consequences that may come with those amounts. To help give more cost control, such as what we would see with our own department, we are proposing that the UPD board sets a target budget increase early on each year. Currently, UPD staff requests what they want/need in the upcoming budget instead of cities first stating what they can afford. We hope to have a mechanism in place so all the UPD members can come together and set a target increase that each community can afford. Reform #2: A Fund Balance Policy A fund balance is essentially just a fancy government word for “savings account.” Currently, every municipality has its own police precinct that has its own budget and fund balance. There is also a pooled fund balance that is used for the overall organization. Traditionally, the pooled fund balance has been used to offset member costs, such as Midvale’s, when budget increases are high. Further, because of police officer shortages, our own precincts
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In The Middle of Everything Calling All Writers & Poets! MIDVALE ARTS COUNCIL’S LITERARY FESTIVAL READY FOR ITS 2ND YEAR Poets and Short Story writers, the Midvale Arts Council is looking for you. The Midvale Literary Festival is back for a second year and submissions will be open soon in various categories. You’ll be able to get all the details from midvalearts.com, but once again, the focus will be on “flash fiction”. Writers who want to test their ability will be given prompts that must be used within their entries. For Short Stories writers will get a location, object, and a line that must be used in their 1,000 word or less story. Poets will be given a list of four words that must be included in their poems. And to make it all more exciting, they’ll only have 48 hours to write their entries. Prizes will be awarded for each category. “We were blown away with the entries we received last year,” said MAC board member Bob Bedore. “I can’t wait to see what people come up with this go around.” The Festival will also feature pre-written entries in short stories and poems with all the winners featured on the MAC website and on all their social media. All questions can be addressed to the Midvale Arts Council.
WWW . MIDVALECITY . ORG MAYOR’S MESSAGE CONTINUED currently have higher than usual fund balances because some of the money that the city pays UPD for wages is sitting in this account. With a diminishing pooled fund balance and the increase in the precinct fund balances, there has been talk about shifting money from the precincts into the pooled account. First, for this reform, we are looking for clarification on how precinct fund balance can be used. Because our city, and therefore our residents, paid for our precinct fund balance, we don’t want to see that amount be rerouted into a different account. Secondly, there are regulations around most government entities for a minimum and maximum amount of savings you can have. UPD does not currently have these numbers in place, so we’d like to have both a savings floor and ceiling added to the policy.
Midvale Plays Host to The Improv World With The 5th Annual Wasatch Improv Festival COVID might have postponed the 5th edition of the Wasatch Improv Festival, but it wasn’t able to stop it. Normally the WIF hosts improv comedy teams from all over the United States in January, but a change of seasons got a chance to bring the laughs to the summer. August 11-13 saw 26 different troupes from all four corners of the U.S. visit Midvale for what is quickly becoming one of the largest improv festivals in the country. All three nights featured different comedy styles while the days were filled with classes and activities, including a Top Golf Tournament – A festival favorite. “Five years ago we weren’t sure if anyone would even be interested to coming here,” Jason Wile, MAC board member and one of WIF’s founders said. “But now we are on the comedy map and we have to actually turn teams down – something we hate to do!” Kelly Chambers and Adam Next year the festival will return to Bowling (otherwise known as January and troupes are already lining “The Purdy Twins”) tucked in an audience member for a nap up to get a chance to make people laugh at the Wasatch Improv Festival at the Midvale Performing Arts Center. held in August at the Midvale Details about the festival can be found at Performing Arts Center. wasatchimprov.com.
Midvale Arts Council – 2022 Art Show Winners Children’s Art (ages 0-11) 1st – Akshara Sudhakar 2nd – Lydia Wild 3rd – Taraasha Ojha
Electronic Media 1st – Wendy Dewey 2nd – Steve Dewey 3rd – Ruth Giorgio
Youth Art (ages 12-18) 1st – Erin Grimshaw 2nd – Erin Grimshaw 3rd – Debbie Mahe
Heirloom Art 1st – Sarah Morton Taggart 2nd – Ruth Giorgio 3rd – Carol Butterfield
Three Dimensional Art 1st – Durga Ekambaram 2nd – Paul McGill 3rd (tie) – Camille Grimshaw 3rd (tie) – Jill Tea Smith
Traditional Art 1st – Komal Bhutada 2nd (tie) – Cassidy Huntsman 2nd (tie) – Camille Grimshaw 3rd (tie) – Aatmica Ojha 3rd (tie) – Ashley Ann Hilmand
The Midvale Arts Council hosted its annual art show on August 3rd at the Midvale Performing Arts Center as part of the Harvest Days festivities. Bree Morris, who serves as Chair of the Art Show, noted the tremendous quality and diversity in the works submitted. “For a small show, there really is some incredible art here.” The show was adjudicated by local judges. Winners in each category were announced that evening and presented with gift cards to Michaels. Camille Grimshaw won Best of Show with her painting “Blue Giraffe” and also won the People’s Choice award with her painting “Surf’s Up”. The Arts Council Choice award went to Erin Grimshaw for her painting “Colorful Face”. Other winners included the following:
Reform #3: Organizational Evaluation As with many police departments, we have a civilian board that oversees the organization, its operations, and its budget. On our UPD board, none of us have direct law enforcement background. This lack of direct knowledge becomes challenging when large financial requests are being made either for new specialized equipment, specific departments, or other needs, as none of us truly know the real impact those requests will have on officer and resident safety. To make sure that our board has the right information to have the political control in the organization, in order to both provide great services and look out for taxpayer dollars, we are asking that an independent organization evaluate UPD, specifically our shared services. This type of review will help to determine whether the organization is as efficient and effective as it can be and will give better information to the UPD board as budgetary decisions are made in the coming years.
LOCAL CONTROL Reform #4: Local Branding Emphasis I believe that we have some of the best officers in the State of Utah, as the UPD model allows our officers to become more specialized in specific areas. However, we unfortunately have seen an increase of distrust in law enforcement nationally over the last several years. Therefore, it’s imperative to make sure that our community feels connected with our officers. To create a community-to-officer connection, there may be many solutions, but one part of the solution I see is making sure our community knows that UPD officers are their officers. Currently, Unified Police officer gear does not generally mention the municipality in which they serve. And while in an emergency scenario, you may not care where the officer came from or what their gear says, I want to ensure that we are building positive relationships in non-emergent situations. That’s why we are looking to work with both the UPD administration and officers to maintain pride in the uniforms they wear and the vehicles they drive, while also signaling to our residents that these officers are directly part of our community.
In August, not only did the city council decide to move these needed reforms to the Unified Police board, but they also gave direction for myself and city staff to report back in six months with an update on how the reform process is going. Currently, as the mayor and representative of our city who sits on the UPD board, I’ve been tasked with working to get these reforms in place so we can find long-term stability in the organization. I’m committed to working towards implementing these reforms and ensuring that UPD remains a high-quality organization that meets the needs of our community in a stable and affordable way.
SEPTEMBER 2022 CITY NEWSLETTER WWW . MIDVALECITY . ORG
Pick UP After Your Pet
IT’S POLITE AND PROTECTS THE ENVIRONMENT! We LOVE our dogs, but when pet waste is left on the ground, rain or sprinklers wash that pet waste and bacteria into our storm drains, which pollutes our waterways. It’s a health risk to pets and people, especially children. It is also a nuisance in our neighborhoods. Pet waste is full of bacteria that can make people sick. If it’s washed into the storm drain and ends up in a river, lake, or stream, the bacteria ends up degrading water quality. People who come in contact with the water can get very sick. Unless people take care of it, the waste enters our water with no treatment.
Picking Up After Your Pet Help Keep Our Environment Clean You can help keep our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater clean by applying the following tips: • Bring A Bag. Carry a plastic bag when walking pets and be sure to pick up after them. Clean up pet waste in your yard frequently. • Clean It Up. Pick up after your pets before watering your yard or cleaning patios and driveways. Never hose pet waste into the street or gutter. • Dispose of the Waste. Bury small quantities in your yard where it can decompose slowly. Dig a hole one foot deep. Put three to four inches of waste at the bottom of the hole. Cover the waste with at least eight inches of soil. Bury the waste in several different locations in your yard but keep it away from vegetable gardens!
In recent years, sources of pollution like industrial wastes from factories have been greatly reduced. Now, more than 60 percent of water pollution comes from things like pet waste, cars leaking oil, fertilizers from lawns, gardens, and farms, and failing septic tanks. All these sources add up to a big pollution problem. But each of us can do small things to help clean up our water too, and that adds up to a pollution solution! Having clean water is of primary importance for our health and economy. Clean waterways provide recreation, commercial opportunities, fish habitat, and add beauty to our landscape. All of us benefit from clean water ‐ and each of us has a role in getting and keeping our lakes, rivers, wetlands, and groundwater clean. For more easy steps on protecting our water, visit stormwatercoalition.org