ST. GEORGE – The City of St. George’s fiscal year ends June 30, and that means that it is budget time. It is not uncommon to hear citizen complaints about city expenditures after they are made, but it is uncommon to see much citizen participation in the budget process.
“One of the least attended meetings is the budget meeting,” Marc Mortensen said, observing that only one citizen attended on May 17 this year. Mortensen is the Assistant to the City Manager.
St. George City Manager, Gary Esplin, presented the 2012-2013 recommended fiscal budget to the City Council on May 3; it was adopted for consideration.
Since then, Esplin has given a power point presentation explaining the budget, the Council has entertained discussions with various department heads on their achievements and their requests, and all of these meetings have been open to the public.
The combined budget for the general fund and enterprise funds for the city is just shy of $300 million, Mortensen said. And it is not too late for citizens of St. George to consider and be heard on budget items.
The City Council meets on the first and third Thursdays of every month, and those two Thursdays in June will be open to public comment on the proposed budget. It is anticipated that the Council will approve the budget at the June 21 meeting.
The proposed budget is Esplin’s 37th submitted to St. George and it is balanced. It is lengthy and opens with a summary letter from the City Manager, which Mortensen said is the “meat and potatoes” of the recommendation.
“This budget for 2012-2013 is submitted with increased revenue and expenditures reflecting a continued mild optimism that our local economy will continue to improve and grow,” Esplin said in his letter prefatory to the budget.
Without presuming to summarize a budget that fills 319 pages, we have extracted and set forth in brief below some of the items covered – reference is made to the recommended budget for details. The full budget with Esplin’s summary letter may be viewed here.
The budget foresees a 3.5 percent increase in tax revenue for the city in the coming fiscal year, deriving from sales, property and franchise taxes.
Intergovernmental revenue is expected to increase. This derives from federal and state grants, road funds, liquor funds, airport revenue and contributions for resource officers; the largest source in this category is road funds.
The budget recommends funding new or making changes to employment positions in the areas of Animal Control, Police Department, Emergency Medical Dispatch, Airport Operations, fleet mechanic and Parks Department.
It proposes capital expenditures from the General fund for facilities in Technology Services, building improvements, peak traffic controllers and replacements in the Streets Department, a street sweeper, a mobile lift in the Fleet Department, equipment and improvements for Parks and the Parks Division.
Additionally, $992,000 is proposed to be transferred from the Capital Projects fund to the General Fund for the purchase of eight police vehicles, a wildland brush truck for the Fire Department, an Americans with Disabilities Act report and study of the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center, and repairs and upgrades to the hydrotube at the city’s swimming pool.
Enterprise funds include Water Services, Energy Services, Drainage Utility, Municipal Building, Wastewater Collection and Treatment, Golf Course Operation, and Solid Waste funds.
Water. The City Manager notes that a rate increase for water to city residents is warranted but recommends delaying increases until studies can be done.
Electricity. In the area of electricity services, the City incurred revenue losses this year due to decreased use, but increased costs due to other factors. The budget recommends rate increases to meet its obligations.
Drainage. Projects under the Drainage Utility Fund have included the St. George Industrial Park / I-15 project, storm drains under the I-15 to the Virgin River, the Main Street project which must be completed prior to construction of the new Dixie Middle School.
Golf Courses. Golf Course operations have some economic challenges and the City Manager has eliminated capital requests for the new year.
Carry-over projects from Fiscal Year 2011-2012 include a $500,000 pickleball complex in Little Valley, an $80,000 paved trail for pedestrian crossing on Sand Hollow Wash and $50,000 to complete Tonaquint Park and parking lot improvements.
Recommended Park and Trail Projects
Seven major park and trail projects are recommended at an aggregate estimated cost in excess of $2,300,000. These pertain to the Fields at Little Valley, Seegmiller Park, Little Valley, Royal Oaks Park, the neighborhood park in Little Valley, Sunset Park and the St. James Subdivision area.
Last year’s budget sought a lawnmower, this year’s proposes $100,000 for a niche wall garden is proposed for the cemetery to accommodate cremation remains.
From grant funds that are specifically for the benefit of low to moderate income individuals, projects ongoing and new include a down payment assistance program, ADA handicap ramps on city streets, acquisition of offices for the Dove Center, funds for the Learning Center for Families and the Community Development Block Grant Program.
Roads and Highways
Public works, transportation improvement, roads, highways, bridges, storm drains and more are too many and complex for this summary and reference is made to the budget itself for details.
No new expansion of city bus services is recommended.
Downtown St. George
Redevelopment Agency for a fourteen-block area from 500 East to 100 West on both sides of St. George Boulevard and a few blocks along Tabernacle Street has been extended to 2015. Debt service continues to be paid for the Town Square.
City Council Meetings in June will be held on June 7 and 21, beginning at 4 p.m., in the City Council Chambers of the City offices located at 175 E 200 N in St. George.
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Copyright 2012 St. George News