The Town Council was to make a decision last night (Aug. 13) whether to impose a Public Safety Fee on property owners in Fountain Hills. The proposal was an annual cost of $185 per property parcel.
The discussion related to the proposed fee in recent weeks has brought attention to the costs of law enforcement and whether the town should look for ways to cut costs other than a contract with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. That contract is budgeted at about $4 million for the current fiscal year.
Working with MCSO, the town has prepared a fact sheet related to services provided by the Sheriff’s Office and the costs to the town. The entire fact sheet may be reviewed at the town’s website, fh.az.gov, but we have pulled some of the highlights into this column.
*As an incorporated municipality the Town of Fountain Hills has a statuary obligation to provide law enforcement services to citizens, whether by contract or a town police department.
*The Sheriff’s Office has jurisdictional authority to assist all. These are law enforcement services that impact every community member in Maricopa County. If Fountain Hills created its own law enforcement agency, the taxes paid into Maricopa County would not change. Community members of all incorporated cities and towns are impacted by county services provided throughout Maricopa County.
*MCSO has a statutory obligation to recover costs associated with contract law enforcement it provides above and beyond the services provided to other noncontract incorporated cities and towns.
*Fountain Hills is not paying for law enforcement services being provided to unincorporated communities outside Fountain Hills.
*MCSO is not charging Fountain Hills for “special operations” costs. There is nothing MCSO provides without charge to other municipalities that Fountain Hills is missing out on.
*When significant events occur within a community, law enforcement assigned often work additional hours. Contract employees who work additional hours and have additional cost associated with such an event would be charged as part of the contract. Sheriff’s Office employees who respond to assist or assume an investigation are not currently charged to Fountain Hills.