Thousands of Salt Lake County residents still haven’t paid their police bills, racking up a delinquent tab that now tops $1.7 million.

With striking similarity to last spring — when about 12,900 people failed to pay a first-ever fee for police services in unincorporated suburbs such as Magna and Millcreek — county officials reported Thursday that nearly 12,900 payments are missing from the second billing as well.

Many of the nonpayers this time around are the same ones. Some aren’t.

“I’m hopeful they will pay,” said Kerri Nakamura, who oversees the payments for the newly formed law enforcement service area.

Although Nakamura has received a few letters from residents refusing to pay — “I can count them on two hands,” she said — she believes the nearly 28 percent delinquency rate has more to do with education and economics than with political protest.

The police fee (now about $167 annually for homeowners and more for businesses) hit people’s pocketbooks for the first time this year. The county approved the law-enforcement levy to help plug a multimillion-dollar shortfall in its budget for citylike services in townships and other unincorporated areas.

That fee, collected three times a year, was expected to raise more than $12 million.

But the county’s delinquency rate is bulging bigger than the 10 percent officials had expected. Although the number of nonpayers has remained about the same, officials insist they are making progress.

Why? Because a third of those who missed the April deadline have settled up. About 8,600 homes and businesses — out of a pool of 46,000 — remain delinquent on both payments.

The county still is receiving 400 to 600 payments a day for the July billings. By month’s end, officials expect the delinquent tally to drop by as much as 4,000.

Some delinquents probably won’t be paying anytime soon, according to a handful of letters obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.

“I will not be paying for this new �?service,’ ” one person wrote. “I have been unable to work for over a month and have had to cut several �?services’ from my budget. If you want to TAX us residents then TAX us. Do not try to stick it to us with new service fees.”