WEBER COUNTY, Utah
(ABC 4 News) – Two Weber County communities are considering leaving the protection of the sheriff's department and starting their own police force.
West Haven is a town of about 12,000. It was established in 1991 and has always been under the protection of the Weber County Sheriff's Department, but that may soon change.
West Haven Mayor Brian Melaney explained, "We have a signed contract with the county that takes us though the year 2016 and they want to discard it and renegotiate the contract."
Two years ago the Weber County Commission ordered a look at the budget and, according to the sheriff's department, it found some huge discrepancies; the largest in West Haven.
Chief Deputy Klint Anderson said, "We were expensing almost a million dollars in services, county taxpayer money, and they were playing out of that about $340,000 dollars worth."
So instead of paying the $354,000 West Haven has been paying for years, the county is asking the city to pay almost $850,000. For Hooper it would be a cost increase from about $280,000 to $455,000. With that kind of money the mayors are considering starting up a police department of their own.
Melaney said "Looking at it, if we paid the full contract to the sheriff's department, 850,000, at the end of the year what do we have? We don't have any assets. If we took that same amount of money at the end of the year we have some assets and we're moving forward from there."
It's an idea the Weber County Sheriff's Department actually encourages.
Chief Deputy Anderson said, "If they form their own police department it actually ends up being a cost savings for us and for the tax payers in general because we don't shoulder that cost and West Haven takes it on for themselves.”
Both mayors of West Haven and Hooper say it’s still very early on in the planning process, but Melaney told ABC 4 News even without partnering with Hooper, it's likely they're going to start a police department on their own. Their contract with the sheriff's department expires on June 30th, 2013.