UPD, Midvale resume budget talksOct 28, 2020 03:19PM ● By Erin Dixon
Midvale UPD update: UPD attempts to clarify budgets in hopes in response to Midvale City Council concerns over budget transparency. (Photo courtesy Unified Police Department of Greater Salt Lake)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
2019 and 2020 were rocky years between Midvale and Unified Police Department (UPD).
Midvale joined UPD in 2012 to cut costs from providing their own police force. In the springs of 2019 and 2020, UPD increased its membership fee for all participating cities it serves. The increased costs sparked a long discussion in Midvale City Council whether it might be cheaper to fund their own police force again.
For more information about past discussions between Midvale and UPD, see articles below.
2019: https://www.midvalejournal.com/2019/06/13/201700/midvale-city-budget-increases-and-continuation-with-unified-police, https://www.midvalejournal.com/2019/05/20/200124/midvale-contemplates-funding-their-own-police-force.
2020: https://www.midvalejournal.com/2020/06/11/317964/midvale-grapples-with-police-cost, https://www.midvalejournal.com/2020/06/29/319634/midvale-police-chief-residents-share-thoughts-on-state-of-police-work-in-the-city, https://www.midvalejournal.com/2020/07/27/323130/midvale-to-stay-with-upd-but-concerns-remain.
UPD Chief Jason Mazuran said the board and the financial officers have been working to improve their processes this year so member cities won’t be blindsided by cost increases.
“The big thing we’re working on is making sure our budget numbers are understandable, clear and highly transparent. Now that we’ve been able to recreate the budget in a document that we like, we’re going to get those budget numbers out, with direction from the UPD board, in the December and January time frame...so other entities can start planning their budgets,” Mazuran said.
Councilmember Justin Gettel was pleased to see the budget changes. “I think it looks great. I appreciate the look at the numbers. Hopefully, we can do this on a regular basis so it doesn’t come up to crisis level like last year.”
“Most of the change was to make it really organized to open up a budget book and say it’s right there,” Mazuran said.
Previous budgets were prepared and presented by different financial officers, which may explain the change in budget process. Brittany Karzen, director of communications for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office said, “Lisa Dudley became the new CFO of UPD in August of 2018. Her diligent efforts and approach to accounting has resulted in the new budget format that is easier to understand.”
One cause of increasing costs is fueled by many new officers leaving for other private entity jobs. Recently, careers for police officers are higher risk and lower pay. UPD wants to give active officers incentive to stay.
Chief Financial Officer Lisa Dudley said, “The UPD board’s goal is to get officers pay up into the top one-third of the [local] market in a three- to five-year period.
“Most of our neighboring agencies did not give hourly increases [because of COVID] to their officers. UPD officers have been given 2% so that helped us in reaching that goal,” Dudley said.
Though budgets have always been publicly available through the Utah State Auditor’s website (https://reporting.auditor.utah.gov/searchreport), it was hard to track where each dollar was being spent. Prior to fiscal year 2020, the budget was presented to the UPD Board in a summary format.
“We need to show the importance and relationship of shared services to the patrol functions that we do. It’s a symbiotic relationship where what happens to shared services happens to the precinct operations and vice versa,” Mazuran said.