Under a new arrangement, the Sanpete County Sheriff's Office will get another deputy and Manti will get an enhanced law enforcement program at a relatively low cost.
Under the agreement, the change will be effective with the new fiscal year that begins on July 1 and will last for three years.This is made possible by a new federal program that allows agencies like counties and cities to employ some additional officers by paying only 25 percent of their salaries and benefits with the feds picking up the rest.
About 10 years ago, a different city administration and a different sheriff, looking for ways to control or even cut costs, had Manti close down its police department and contract with the sheriff's department to provide its law enforcement services.
In the years since then, there has been occasional dissatisfaction with the program. Citizens, particularly business owners who have been the victim of a break-in, would complain that Manti City wasn't getting its money's worth from the county.
And the sheriff's department, at times, claimed that in view of the service expected, it was being underpaid.
Several members of the sheriff's staff and three City Council members recently sat down together to explore all facets of law enforcement in Manti.
Sheriff Stan Anderson, in a letter addressed to the city, recommended that Manti again return to operating its own police department and implied that Sanpete County was in effect subsidizing law enforcement for the city.
The new agreement is essentially an outgrowth of that conference. Under the agreement, Sanpete will get an additional law enforcement officer with some attendant costs.
And Manti City Manager Bill Mickelson estimates that the city, beginning with the new fiscal year, will have to spend an additional $22,000 annually on law enforcement.
Officials agree that the three-year federal program is making law enforcement enhancement possible for both city and county.
But they are wondering what will happen beyond those three years of federal help. Will the agreement be renewed, or will they have to cut back or depend on their own taxpayers to make up for the loss?