Star Valley Saves Money By Using Payson Police

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Contracting police service from the Payson Police Department rather than from Gila County will save Star Valley about $30,000.

Initially, Star Valley thought it would hire police service through an intergovernmental agreement with the county for $112,000 a year, but the numbers came back differently.

The final number increased to $130,000 a year, said Star Valley Town Manager Lanny Sloan.

On Thursday, June 22, the Payson Town Council voted unanimously to offer police coverage of Star Valley through the Payson Police Department for $100,000.

Tonight, Tuesday, the Star Valley Town Council will vote to accept Payson's offer and contract out its law enforcement with the PPD beginning July 1.

Sloan said the increased cost was one of the reasons some members of the town council asked him to look into the possibility of having Payson provide law enforcement to the community.

"We were talking with the county, and some council members thought we should talk to Payson," he said.

Sloan also said it would have been tough for the Gila County Sheriff's Office to provide the coverage Star Valley needs.

The sheriff's office is understaffed by more than 10 officers, and Sloan said the county is having trouble finding people to fill those positions.

Sloan also believes response times will be quicker from the Payson Police Department than from the Sheriff's Office given the proximity.

An intergovernmental agreement has already been sent to Star Valley from Payson, and Sloan said both attorneys from the towns were working on it. Sloan believes the service his town will receive from the Payson Police Department will probably be on an as-needed basis.

While the Payson Town Council only voted for a one-year agreement, Sloan said he thinks it is going to be long term.

"I think it will work out for Payson and Star Valley," Sloan said. "It is always good to try to combine services."

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner said it's his understanding that his department and officers will provide full service to Star Valley, but imagined they will only be able to provide "pretty thin patrols."

Gartner said Star Valley will be incorporated into what the Payson Police Department is already doing.

Payson is split into four quadrants that the PPD would normally control if it had enough officers. One of those quadrants would be responsible for patrolling the new town. He added the four beats or quadrants are designed for the future when the department is fully staffed.

The Payson police chief said eventually the officers that work the east side of the Beeline Highway will be responsible to respond to calls from Star Valley.

Gartner said the Town of Payson should look into the service in six to eight months to gauge its impacts.

"I know there will be some impacts, but I do not know (to what extent)," he said. "The real likelihood will be the slowing of our response time."

-- To reach Michael Maresh call 474-5251 ext. 112 or e-mail mmaresh@payson.com.

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