City Council approves budget, RAP tax agreement

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

ST. GEORGE – Following a brief public hearing, the St. George City Council voted to approve the proposed 2015-16 city budget Thursday. The council also approved an interlocal agreement regarding the distribution of RAP tax funds between the county and municipalities.

Budget passed

The city budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year sports a general fund of $57 million, with an overall estimated budget of $185 million.

With an anticipated population growth rate of around 3 percent for the coming year, revenue from sales taxes and property taxes are expected to increase by 5 percent and 3 percent, respectively. These taxes provide the majority of the revenue that make up the city’s general fund.

It’s nice when the revenues on sales tax come in higher,” Mayor Jon Pike said. “That means the economy is doing better, people are here and shopping. Those are good things.”

Some highlighted budget items for the coming year include $376,200 for a four-year lease for 35 new police vehicles (replacements), $800,000 for a new fire pumper engine for the Fire Department, $2.4 million for a new 75,000-square-foot facility for the city’s Fleet Services Division, and $305,000 to roof repairs for city buildings.

Other budget items include $680,000 for new traffic signals, $1 million to finish improvements to Indians Hills Drive, $4 million to River Road improvements, $1 million for the All Abilities Park and $879,000 for the Hela Seegmiller Historic Park.

No tax increases are reflected in the budget.

The budget was unanimously passed by the council.

RAP tax

The City Council also unanimously passed a resolution signing onto an amended interlocal agreement with Washington County regarding the distribution of funds related to the RAP, or recreation, arts and parks, tax.

Funds from the RAP tax can been applied to any number of related projects and nonprofit arts groups. In St. George, projects that may see RAP tax revenues applied include the Dixie SunBowl, the Electric Theater, and All Abilities Park.

The voter-approved RAP tax passed last year and went into effect April 15. The tax, which is one penny out of every $10 of sales tax, is anticipated to generate $2.2 million annually. The county is slated to take in 15 percent of those funds, with the remaining 85 percent being distributed among the cities that signed on the interlocal agreement.

Distribution between the cities is based on population size and point-of-sale, with St. George slated to get $1.2 million.

Under the original interlocal agreement, a county-level advisory committee was set up to determine how the county’s portion of the RAP tax revenue would be used. There was a worry that the committee would also dictate to the cities how they should use their allotted RAP tax funds. That is not the case.

“This is just a clarification saying that the 85 percent we (the city) receive would go to projects determined by the mayor and City Council, and not by that advisory committee,” said Deanna Brklacich, the city’s administrative services director.

Another clarification with the amended agreement is that RAP tax funds can also be used for the operation and maintenance of arts and parks facilities, and not just building them.

Other business

The City Council implemented fireworks restrictions for July 1-27 due to the ongoing drought that has created dangerously dry conditions in the region. 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.

An interactive map detailing where fireworks can be safely used can be found on the city’s website.

The council approved an agreement with Sunrise Engineering for $41,600 to oversee the relocation of the Elks baseball field to Bloomington Park. The baseball field is being moved to make way for the eventual construction of a new elementary school.

A bid for $16,289 was award to JMI Construction for the construction of a small office and two public restrooms at the SunTran Transit Center on Tabernacle Street near 1000 East.

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