St. George City Council passes budget, fireworks restrictions

St. George City Offices, St. George, Utah, June 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – After some discussion during a public hearing, the St. George City Council passed the city budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year Thursday. Due to dry conditions resulting from the ongoing drought, the City Council also passed fireworks restrictions.

Budget passed

This is the most important meeting of the year,” Mayor Jon Pike said as the City Council prepared to adopt the city’s budget for the coming year.

The 2014-15 budget features a general fund of around $56 million, with an overall budget estimated at $200 million, City Manager Gary Esplin said.

With an anticipated population growth rate of around 3.75 percent for 2014-15, revenue from sales taxes and property taxes are expected to increase by 3 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

While discussing the budget, Esplin said millions in sales tax is generated annually by economic factors related to recreation, tourism and major events like the St. George Marathon and Ironman 70.3, and revenue from these events helps keep property taxes from increasing.

Major projects being funded in the coming year include $3 million for the completion of the Mall Drive Bridge, $2.2 million for the pavement management program, $1.8 million for a drainage backbone in the Washington Fields area, $1.8 million for improvements to Indian Hills Parkway, and a $900,000 match for the Red Hills Parkway-Bluff Street interchange project.

Other listed budget items include $300,000 for the All Abilities Park, $315,000 for remodeling the city’s Recreation Center, and $300,000 toward the city’s developing homeless shelter/Resource Center.

Though no raises in taxes are proposed, a number of fees related to city recreation programs, cemeteries fees and airport parking fees will increase.  The base rate for all water accounts served by the city will increase by 10 percent. The average household will see an increase of about $2.25 on monthly bills.

The City Council unanimously passed the budget.

Fireworks restrictions

As it has done in previous years during dry summer months when fire season has loomed across much of the drought-choked region, the City Council implemented fireworks restrictions within city limits for July.

This ordinance is not prohibiting fireworks – just where they can’t be,” St. George Fire Deputy Chief Kevin Taylor told the council.

In general, no fireworks are to be used within 250 feet of: dry washes and drainages, river and stream corridors, hillsides, plateaus and mesa tops, undeveloped open space or natural terrain.

A detailed, interactive map of the city displaying restricted zones is available on the St. George City website.

“You can basically narrow it right down to your street,” Marc Mortensen, assistant to the city manager, said.

Taylor said the public has largely been receptive to the restrictions and people have been responsible when using fireworks.

The restrictions will be in place from July 1-31.

Other business

Members of the St. George Animal Shelter Review Board and St. George Police Sgt. Ivor Fuller were recognized by the mayor and City Council for improvements made to the city’s animal shelter over the last year.

There’s a lot more positive change at the St. George Animal Shelter,” Fuller said.

The animal shelter is celebrating its grand reopening this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the public is invited to see the changes that have taken place. The animal shelter is located at 605 E. Water Works Drive off of Red Hills Parkway.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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