Growth, not an increase in property tax rate, will fund St. George’s $270 million budget

St. George City Hall, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2017 | File photo by Joseph Witham, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A city budget of more than a quarter billion dollars will be funded in large part thanks to new growth, as new move-ins bring in more revenue in sales taxes, property taxes and impact fees.

St. George City as seen from the Dixie Rock/Sugarloaf formation at Pioneer Park, St. George, Utah, July 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The city of St. George’s $270.8 million budget for fiscal year 2018-19 went into effect Sunday after being approved by the City Council June 21.

Representing a significant increase over last year’s approximately $218 million budget, the new budget is indicative of a rapidly growing city that will need expanded services to accommodate the influx of people.

Despite all the projected growth, city officials say no one will be paying higher taxes to account for the larger budget.

“No taxes are going up,” Mayor Jon Pike said during a recent City Council meeting.

In fact, the existing property tax rate will actually go down based on increased property valuation in the city.

Instead, newcomers building new homes and businesses will help fund the increases in the budget.

“We will see additional revenues from growth in the city,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said in the City Council meeting.

Pie chart depicts percentage of the city of St. George’s general fund expenditure divided by department | Image courtesy of the city of St. George, St. George News

The city’s $73 million general fund, the main fund from which the city government operates, will be funded in large part by a significant increase in projected sales tax collection, also indicative of the fact that there are more people spending money in the city’s economy.

The remaining portion of the budget includes the city’s capital project and enterprise funds, which are funded by various revenue streams from services provided by the city, such as water, recreation and energy services.

Some city utility and recreation fees saw a modest increase in order to help fund necessary facilities improvements.

Read more: Keeping toilets flushing: Sewer rates to go up 45 percent in St. George next month

What’s the budget paying for?

Public safety

In this November 2017 file photo, St. George Police Sgt. Choli Ence and Officer Chad Lee chat with media, St. George, Utah, Nov. 16, 2017 | St. George News file photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Staffing needs represents the lion’s share of the general fund budget, with an emphasis on public safety.

The St. George Police Department plans to hire additional traffic and patrol officers and hire a few officers to replace outgoing personnel.

The St. George Fire Department is looking to increase its roster of full-time firefighters significantly, with plans to add nine additional positions. However, the majority of the funding for these positions is dependent on an outside grant, rather than from the city’s budget.

Read more: St. George City Council ponders public safety budget 

The city is also setting aside $2.2 million to go toward the construction of a new fire station in Little Valley.

Infrastructure

This 2012 file photo shows the city of St. George Wastewater Treatment Facility, St. George, Utah, Aug. 1, 2012 | St. George News file photo by Joyce Kuzmanic, St. George News

The first phase of construction will begin on an expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant, which serves St. George, Ivins, Santa Clara and Washington cities. The multiyear project is expected to cost $61 million over four years, with $15 million devoted to the project this year. It is slated for completion in 2022. The city’s sewer outfall lines will also be repaired this year at a cost of $5 million.

Approximately $3.6 million will go toward the first construction phase of a planned arsenic treatment plant near Gunlock.

Read more: New arsenic treatment plant near Gunlock would add water sources for St. George

Other major infrastructure projects include $3 million for the Sand Hollow pipeline and $3.4 million for upgrades to the Flood Street and Green Valley electrical substations.

Parks and recreation

Construction of the first phase of a bike skills park near Snow Canyon High School will go forward at a price of about $1.3 million, slated for completion in September.

Read more: Largest bike skills park in Southern Utah set to begin construction in St. George

In this October 2016 file photo, kids play at the Thunder Junction All Abilities Park, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2016 | St. George News file photo by Dave Amodt, St. George News

Close to one-half million dollars will be devoted to improvements to the Thunder Junction All Abilities park, including an expanded parking lot.

Plans are also in place to replace the roof at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center and improve several city-managed trail systems.

A new $700,000 clubhouse is slated to be built at the Red Hills Golf Course.

The city will also be completing the new Crimson Ridge Park within the fiscal year at a rate of $880,000.

Transportation

As the Bluff Street widening project forges ahead, the city has set aside approximately $194,000 for landscaping improvements along the street.

Read more: City plans landscaping along Bluff Street widening project

In this March 2018 file photo, cars drive by the construction zone on Bluff Street in St. George, March 22, 2018 | St. George News file photo by Spencer Ricks, St. George News

A pedestrian underpass on 400 South under Interstate 15 is slated to be built for $500,000 in order to improve safety and access for Dixie State University students.

Several million dollars have also been dedicated to installing traffic signals and improving roads and intersections throughout town.

Fiscal responsibility

Even as the city looks to hire more personnel and upgrade and build new facilities, city officials have said they are adamant about maintaining a balanced budget that does not levy fees or taxes beyond need.

“What we are projecting is increased revenues,” Lenhard said. “This is a balanced budget, so our expenses will not exceed our revenues.”

However, since the budget is planned in such a way to avoid a deficit, there are usually leftover monies at the end of the fiscal year, which are typically stored in “rainy day” funds.

“We do believe it’s a good idea to budget conservatively,” Pike said. “We usually have a little bit left over.”

For an exhaustive look at the 2018-19 budget, visit the St. George city budget website.

Email: jwitham@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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19 Comments

  • Jaybird July 7, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    ThIs growth is truly amazing and it is all thanks to Trump. Thank you Mr. Trump we are in your debt. Especially me.

    • John July 8, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Jailturd has a mancrush on Trump

    • Thecadean July 9, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Isn’t it amazing 9 year rally. I guess Obama really did help out the economy from the top recession given us an eight-year solid base. Just hopeful Donald Duck doesn’t mess it up with trade Wars.

    • Mike P July 9, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Boy, that’s a stretch Jaybird. Trump?

    • An actual Independent July 10, 2018 at 6:52 am

      Sure. Good weather and pretty scenery have nothing to do with it. Why, I remember way back in 2016 when St George was a sleepy by water town without paved roads or traffic lights. Sheesh.

  • beacon July 8, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Growth will not pay for itself and Mayor Pike should not be kidding citizens into believing it will. We will all pay for it. The newcomers who are paying high home prices which include impact fees for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline are helping to drive up home prices, prices which are already pricing people out of the market and driving up rents such that many people are forced to move to outlying areas to find reasonably priced apartments. Older residents who want to upgrade to a bigger home will pay the increased costs required because of the impact fees and growth pressures. No, growth does not pay for itself.

    • IPFreely July 8, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Buy no increased taxes….

    • comments July 8, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Yep, this place is all about boom/bust economic cycles–total goldrush mentality by local LDS politicians. The economy of this place is dependent on constant expansion and house building, as there is no real stable long-term economic industry here. The next recession will prob hit this place harder than the Bush ’08 one. I may be cashed out and outta here by then.

      • IPFreely July 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm

        Here comes the bigot!

        • Jaybird July 8, 2018 at 2:41 pm

          You’re right! I am a bigot. I bring religion into every conversation whether it belongs there or not.

          • comments July 8, 2018 at 3:19 pm

            Just adorable IPfree and “comments” 😉 . You must be a real dedicated LDS’er since you’ve got such thin skin about it, IP. Maybe even an RM? You can’t defend your beliefs so you just lash out? As cute as it is you are not a very entertaining troll 😉 And I suspect you are another one of John’s accounts. This may be the last I humor you unless you can be more entertaining 😉

          • Jaybird July 9, 2018 at 5:56 am

            You weren’t funny in the first place. So how can you humor anyone?

          • Paul Dail Paul Dail July 9, 2018 at 8:13 am

            *Jaybird, please refrain from changing your screen name to pretend to be other commenters.

            St. George News

          • Paul Dail Paul Dail July 9, 2018 at 8:15 am

            Jaybird, please refrain from changing your screen name to pretend to be other commenters.

            St. George News

          • IPFreely July 9, 2018 at 9:42 am

            Geez… comments. Don’t get your depends in a twist

  • youcandoit July 8, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    They needed to add more affordable housing or expand the shelter and what about the addicts what help is there for them? And these pan handlers?

  • Thecadean July 9, 2018 at 9:51 am

    Good luck with this. Growth always leads to higher taxes in the long run. More schools more infrastructure more water more smog, more crime or theft more murders ,more car accidents more police,more fire More Pensions and in the end much more government and bureaucracy and regulation. It’s a vicious cycle and I doubt that Saint George is some special City that’ll avoid becoming another Phoenix or Detroit.

  • Scott July 9, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Ponzi schemes always work out in the end, right?

  • RadRabbit July 9, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    Would be nice to cut back on some things and maybe lower taxes. Great places to start cutting “art” off Tabernacle and at town square park (looks cluttered and serves no purpose), get rid of the Suntran bus (figure out your own ride thats not subsidized by taxpayers) along with that the bike share program same thing. Just to name a few plenty more useless things that could be cut also.

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