ST. GEORGE – After the City Council denied former Dance Factory owner John Carter the opportunity to open a dance hall at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting last night, the council held the first of two hearings to discuss the 2012-2013 recommended fiscal budget for the city.
“I had received several emails concerning an air monitor” to keep tabs on pollution in St. George, City Manager Gary Esplin said, opening the budget discussion.
Currently the city borrows one, but having two is optimal. Esplin suggested the city purchase one unit at a cost of $25,000. He said, “It was not included in the budget, but we could definitely find the money in the capital funds budget to pay for it.” The city will also look into a possible grant to pay for the monitoring station.
Mayor MacArthur said, “We have explored that option in our monthly air quality task force meeting and, honestly, it hasn’t been followed through on.”
The meeting was then declared open for public comments.
Only one person, Ed Baca, attended to comment on the budget. He stood up to speak, calling himself a concerned citizen who, after spending the last 11 years attending budget meetings, praised the council for “taking care of the city employees.”
Referring to page four of the recommended budget, Esplin explained: “Based on our (city employees’) usage, an 8.7 percent increase in insurance premiums is necessary.”
If the budget is passed, Esplin wants taxpayers to pay for the increase. Esplin is also recommending the city continue the longevity program and fund a two percent merit increase beginning in December.
Esplin is also recommending that the city purchase eight police vehicles, at a cost totaling $275,000 to be paid with capital project funds – not out of the $10,297,177 public safety budget. Also coming out of the capital projects fund will be a wild land brush truck for the fire department at a cost of $110,000 and recreation equipment and improvements at a cost of $105,000.
The council also discussed ideas of how to spend $2,250,000 surplus from last year’s budget. Councilor Gil Almquist wants to spend $250,000 for the St. George Musical Theater to purchase a building. Esplin said he would like to contract out a company to see if it is feasible: “Building it is one thing and paying for it afterwards is another.”
Residents concerned about how their city’s money is spent for this coming fiscal year should attend their city budget meetings. For St. George, the last hearing is June 21, at 5 p.m., at the City Council Chambers of the City offices located at 175 E 200 N in St. George. A full copy of the recommended budget may be reviewed online or downloaded.
Email: [email protected]
Copyright 2012 St. George News.