Summit County Manager Bob Jasper shouldn't have to apologize for bringing up a valid issue: that the East Side's municipalities are not paying their fair share for law enforcement services.
Overall, county residents rely on the sheriff's department for most of their law enforcement needs. Park City taxpayers augment their public safety coverage by supporting a professional police department. Those who live in the unincorporated parts of the county, like the Snyderville Basin, support the sheriff's department by paying a county municipal services tax that covers expenses related to city-type services, including law enforcement. And Kamas has a part-time police force.
But four of the five incorporated towns on the East Side of the county Henefer, Coalville, Oakley and Francis -- rely on the sheriff's department without paying into the municipal services fund.
Some on the West Side have rightfully cried foul.
Years ago, when suburban development in the Snyderville Basin began to blossom, the table was reversed. East Siders complained their taxes were subsidizing the increasing services required by growing neighborhoods like Pinebrook and Jeremy Ranch. The county commission responded by implementing a municipal services tax to help cover road maintenance, planning and zoning administration, but mostly to ensure a high level of law enforcement coverage.
According to the county sheriff, the lion's share of his patrol budget is funded by the municipal services fund. And while Henefer, Coalville, Oakley and Francis residents can rest assured their calls for help will be answered, they are not supporting those services at the same level as their neighbors outside the city limits.
Unfortunately, the East Side mayors, so far, have balked at considering the county manager's draft interlocal law enforcement services agreement calling for the cities to pay a negotiable annual fee based on their needs. The document was accompanied by a very civil invitation to come in and talk about the proposal.
The mayors' reaction has the potential to adversely affect law enforcement resources which are already stretched -- throughout the county. Hopefully, though, their constituents can talk some sense into them.