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Riverton • Riverton City will vote Tuesday on whether to begin the complicated process of withdrawing from the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area.

It can't do that, however, before Dec. 21, under agreement with SLVLESA and its lender. The lender had required the city to guarantee it remains with the service area until after property tax assessments that fund it have been collected — a deal the City Council approved Tuesday.

SLVLESA recently increased property taxes 9.5 percent for members, including Riverton, Herriman, Millcreek and unincorporated Salt Lake County. The tax hike does not apply to cities that contract with the Unified Police Department: Taylorsville, Midvale and Holladay.

Riverton currently pays an aggregate of about $5 million annually to SLVLESA.

Councilman Trent Staggs believes that leaving the service area and contracting with UPD will save residents money and give the city more say over police staffing and operations.

"In my mind, the service area model has a certain amount of flaws to it. Riverton is better served [by contracting with] UPD. What I found is the cities who participate on contract basis have much greater level of control over service levels, control of costs and transparency of elected officials," Staggs said.

Last year the City Council first considered the possibility of leaving SLVLESA, but would've had to put the issue before voters. Since then, the Utah Legislature passed HB229, which allows such withdrawal without a vote but also sets out a process for doing so.

Herriman also is considering pulling out of the service area and passed a resolution similar to Riverton's guaranteeing its membership until at least Dec. 21.

Riverton Mayor Bill Applegarth, believes SLVLESA membership is a topic worthy of exploration but wants to make sure the issue is fully vetted.

"The council feels that if we form our own service district, that will be cheaper for the taxpayers. We should always be trying to get the lowest taxes we can for our taxpayers," Applegarth said.

"My personal opinion is it ought to be looked at and investigated. If it's less expensive, then I think it is a good thing. If it isn't, it's not."

If the city ends up leaving SLVLESA, the mayor believes it should definitely contract with UPD rather than try to form its own police department.

"We cannot get better police protection for the money than we do from UPD."