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Holladay Journal

UPD hopes for another detective in new budget, final approval set for June 16

May 29, 2022 01:37PM ● By Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

On June 16, the Holladay City Council will pass the budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Residents are invited to look over the budget on the city website and speak during public hearings during council meetings on June 2 and June 9.

The council passed a tentative budget in early May with department heads giving presentations to the council and further discussion happening up to the final vote on June 16.

Additional revenue from the property tax increase and new stormwater fee, both passed the council, means the city can focus on road improvements and stormwater projects, according to city officials. ARPA funds from the federal government will also see $1.8 million go toward stormwater projects in the city. The city also saw a $1 million increase in sales tax revenue.

Since the beginning of the year, the council and staff have regularly spoken about staffing issues and the budget highlights two of its priorities in retaining staff and funding changes for police, fire and public works contracts.

In the May 12 study meeting, UPD precinct chief Justin Hoyal presented proposing UPD an overall increase in its budget by just over $1.1 million, with the increase coming in salaries, precinct operational costs like fuel and vehicle replacements, and shared service costs. It’s an 18% increase from last year, with early discussions with UPD possibly getting up to 25% for Holladay. Both numbers the mayor and members of the council feel uneasy about.

Councilman Paul Fotheringham wondered why the budget increase tends to be higher for UPD each year relative to other departments, especially when they “haven’t been kicking the UPD can down the road.”

“It’s a big number…I can swallow the large increase in general, but it’s hard to get my head around why UPD always has to have this monster increase when it hasn’t been neglected,” he said during the meeting.

With the departure of recent cities from UPD in previous years by Herriman, Riverton and Taylorsville, the shared services among the members of UPD have seen budget cuts in recent years. Perhaps most significantly, Hoyal said, was fewer police officers coming out. He said their recent entry level recruitment number was 18, far below the cafeteria full of recruits when he started out.

Mayor Rob Dahle was also concerned about the amount of fund balance the precinct should have wanting to maintain a rainy day fund. City officials said during the meeting the fund balance would be around $250,000, which also serves as an increase.

“It’s still a chunk of money having to come out of our annual budget that is now going to be ongoing,” Dahle said during the meeting, adding the city is “financially healthy” but what if in a year we go into a recession. “We should be really protective of our fund balance.”

One of the primary increases being considered would be for a fifth detective in the precinct.

One aspect, Hoyal pointed out, was UPD’s domestic violence unit used to be a shared service, now that is left up to each precinct. This investigative responsibility, Hoyal said, requires almost a full 40-hour work week for one detective. In 2021, Holladay’s precinct had 194 family offense/domestic violence cases, which was low considering the previous four years were all above 200 cases.

“There’s a lot of follow up that needs to be done on those,” Hoyal told the council.

Another aspect is UPD’s mental health unit, created in 2017. One of the city’s four detectives is assigned to the mental health unit as a secondary assignment and is meant to go out twice a month with a licensed clinical social worker to follow up with calls, providing resources and limit the number of calls for patrol officers to respond. In 2021, mental health calls were up to 214, the most in the last five years.

Hoyal said the detective went from twice a month to spending about 95% of the work week following up with patients.

“We have a large number of people in this community in Holladay that struggle with mental health issues,” Hoyal said. “Compared with some of our other partners at UPD, we are a very high percentage user of mental health cases.”

With two detectives tied up in domestic violence and mental health cases, Hoyal said it’s left the remaining two detectives to follow up on property crime cases where numbers have remained steady over the past five years ranging from 900-1,100 cases a year, meaning the work load on those two detectives has doubled.

The last year has seen more in-depth investigations take place requiring more follow up and search warrants. In 2020, only three search warrants were served. That number jumped to 30 in 2021 and 2022 already has 20 warrants so far.

In the meeting, Hoyal explained they just served a search warrant on a home and found stolen property linked to several burglaries across the valley.

“This individual has been plaguing Holladay for the last two years,” he said adding the suspected individual is linked to theft of homes and businesses in the city. This type of work keeps their detectives busy, Hoyal said.

The additional detective would be an additional $200,000 the first year and an additional $150,000 in ongoing costs.

“This is a huge part of our budget and probably deserves the heightened level of scrutiny,” Councilman Dan Gibbons said.