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Senate bill advances to share the cost of public safety for new shelters

Concerns about the cost of new homeless shelters is clashing with concerns over the impact on other cities and towns in Utah.

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood told the Senate Business and Labor Committee on Thursday that their study shows they will need two more police officers and two paramedics to respond to calls when a new homeless resource center is built.

“We would really appreciate the support of this committee. Promises have been made that if we were a partner, help would be given to address our public safety needs,” she said.

Mayor Wood, the salt lake mayor’s office and the Midvale mayor all spoke in favor of SB 235, which would hike a tax on all of Utah’s cities in order to mitigate the public safety costs of the cities getting the new shelters.

But the League of Cities and Towns says that could mean a double tax hit, because HB 462, also advancing in the legislature.

“If both pass, cities would be asked to pay twice,” said Cameron Diehl, executive director of the Utah League of Cities and Towns.

“It would have put a state-mandaded gap in every budget,” he said.

The committee voted in favor of advancing SB 235, but with a caveat that the two bills become reconciled.