With the incorporation of their town, Vineyard residents soon will have to contract for services that were previously the county's responsibility - a chore that could be more costly than residents think.
Utah County Auditor Bruce Peacock said much of Vineyard's anticipated property tax revenues of about $75,000 likely will be needed for police and fire services, leaving the town little for other expenditures.But then, Vineyard isn't exactly an urban center with a lot of big-city expenses. Residents have their own wells and septic tanks, there are only a few miles of roads to maintain and annual expenditures for police and fire services have been low in the past.
The county has been contracting with Orem City to provide fire services to Vineyard, while the sheriff's department has provided law enforcement.
The services have been funded through revenue from two special service districts.
The Geneva Steel plant has its own fire department, but Vineyard may need to contract for backup fire protection for the plant.
Once incorporation is finalized, Sheriff Dave Bateman said, services will depend on how much Vineyard residents want to pay for them. Currently, the county sheriff's department handles traffic accidents, law enforcement and related investigations in Vineyard, as well as in county unincorporated areas and other small towns that contract for the services.
"We're their police department," Bateman said. "That would change now with incorporation" unless Vineyard residents enter into a contract for continued services.
Vineyard could contract with a nearby city for the services, or it could hire its own full-time police officer and just contract for backup services. Because of the cost, Vineyard likely will be unable to afford the 24-hour patrols the sheriff's department currently provides, Bateman said.
"It all would depend on the level of service they want," he said.
"Generally speaking, to put a fully certified police officer in the field with his equipment, it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 a year for an eight-hour shift. That's a very conservative estimate."
With the town's low projected budget, a full-time officer likely is out of the question.