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Sandy Journal

Recap: Sandy City Council approves additional Police forfeiture funds, Hirschi annexation and tentative mayoral budget

Apr 27, 2016 11:42AM ● By Chris Larson
The Sandy City Council approved several items including the additional civil asset forfeiture funds for the police department, the mayor’s tentative budget for the coming fiscal year and the Hirschi annexation in their April 26 meeting.

The council authorized the police department to use nearly $11,000 of additional funds from assets seized by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The Sandy City Police Department has already spent over $6,501.19 of the $10,950.03 allotted from the DEA on various office supplies, the most expensive of which included a $500 printer.

Police Chief Kevin Thacker said that the money was spent without council approval because the department was unaware of a change to state law that took effect last July. 

SB52 requires an agency to gain approval by the agencies legislative body before using any forfeiture funds awarded by the federal government. 

Thacker said this allotment is surplus funds from the DEA shared account, which redistributes assets from DEA civil forfeiture based on the number of DEA taskforce officers and the number of DEA cases the department participates in rather than the amount of assets seized. 
Sandy police has one officer participating in a local DEA task force and receive a base amount of money to fund certain budget items limited to specification within federal law.

The money from the DEA comes from various personal, vehicular or real estate assets seized by prosecutors following drug investigations, according to the DEA website. Often, material assets are sold and money is redistributed to various agencies.

Permitted uses include the purchase of supplies for law enforcement activities, drug education programs, additional training and travel expenses. DEA allotments may not be used to pay salaries, education costs for officers or food, according to DEA’s “Guide to Equitable Sharing and Local Law Enforcement Agencies” pamphlet. 

The council approved a resolution approving the use of the money and the future use of the remaining funds. 

Councilman Stephen Smith expressed concern over the use of forfeiture, referring to growing sentiment about the legitimacy of civil asset forfeiture which he said operates independently of criminal investigations and often regardless of the outcome of a trial. 

Smith asked about safeguards to the process. Thacker responded by saying that most case that involve asset forfeiture accompany convictions or are seized in course of obvious investigation. Thacker said that property can be “pulled into evidence” but needs to be assessed by the district attorney to determine if the property can be seized. 

The council approved an annexation initially proposed by Lynn Hirschi to bring in 36 parcels near 3319 East Wasatch Pines Lane into Sandy City, much to the chagrin of Todd and Mary Young who are among eight private private owners opposed to the annexation. 

According to a report by the Sandy City Community Development Department, the 20.6 acres parcel is contiguous to Sandy City on three sides, is specified as an area for possible annexation by the Sandy City General Plan and already receives several Sandy City services — including utilities and EMS.

Much of the discussion by both citizen commenters and the council centered on possible exclusion of the Youngs from annexation or delay until Jan. 2017. 

Todd and Mary Young, who addressed the council, said they are community advocates and are on community advisory boards in Granite. Board bylaws would exclude the Youngs from official membership if the area was annexed. 

The development department said that delay of the annexation was simple untenable and that the exemption of eight parcels—interspersed within the annexation—of the 36 parcels would likely be rejected by county officials. 

The annexation process will be complete within 45 days according to the development department. 

Finance & Information Services Director Brian Kelley presented the mayor’s tentative budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. 

Both Kelley and Thacker reported the need to hire more police officers. Thacker said by the end of the week six of seven unfilled street officers would likely be filled. The budget also allows for the hiring of a new officer and purchase of an additional police car. 

Kelley also said that the budget includes funds for an additional fire chief to act as assistant fire marshal and “auxiliary truck” for that marshal. 

The budget did not include a tax increase. Mayor Tom Dolan said that he would not include a budget with tax increases until the the council specified a plan for increased city taxes. The budget includes a $2 increase to all city water customers.