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.
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.
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.
What’s the budget paying for?
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.
The city is also setting aside $2.2 million to go toward the construction of a new fire station in Little Valley.
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.
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.
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.
As the Bluff Street widening project forges ahead, the city has set aside approximately $194,000 for landscaping improvements along the street.
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.
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.
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