Washington City adopts $76 million budget, approves water rate increase

WASHINGTON CITY — Following the adoption of a preliminary budget at the end of May, the Washington City Council formally approved a $76 million budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year packed with road infrastructure and other capital projects during a regular council meeting Wednesday.

Members of the Washington City Council, Washington City, Utah, June 12, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The council also approved increased water rates in order to compensate for an annual rise in wholesale cost from the Washington County Conservancy District.

The budget

The 2019-2020 budget is almost $20 million more than last year’s budget due to the plethora of capital projects, the bulk of which includes road projects.

Funding for these projects has accrued over time and can now be put toward the various capital projects.

Read more: Road projects make up almost half of nearly $20 million increase to Washington City budget

There is also some one-time funding being put away for future projects like the expansion of the cemetery and the purchase of a new firetruck.

The budget will also include the hiring of two new police officers and other full-time city staff positions. Current employees will also see wage increases between 2.5-6.25% based on their annual performance evaluations.

“These millions of dollars are a unique thing to manage, and I’m grateful to our city staff who help identify the city’s needs,” Councilman Daniel Cluff said.

Water rate increase

Since 2016, the Washington County Water District has increased the price of water it sells to various cities by 10 cents per 1,000 gallons. The increase is meant to help cover the water district’s own utility and treatment chemical costs.

Read more: Water district raises rates on cities

Like other cities that buy part of their water supply from the water district, Washington City chose to pass the cost along to the end users – city residents and businesses.

Sprinkler watering grass in St. George, Utah, June 4, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

As the city did not raise rates last year, this year’s increase will be 20 cents and take effect July 1, said Mike Shaw, the city’s public works director.

While the meter base rate will stay the same, current rates for a home with a 5/8 meter will go from $1.20 per 1,000 gallons in the 0-5,000 gallons range to $1.40.

An average Washington City water home uses an estimated 30,000 gallons monthly at a cost of $63.17. The new rate adopted by the City Council Wednesday is projected to bump that to $69.17.

In other business, the City Council approved an increase in fees related to the Washington City Community Center and use of the city’s various sports fields to better cover labor and maintenance costs.

During his report to the council meeting, City Manager Roger Carter said the city was in talks with St. George about expanding SunTran bus service into Washington City.

While previous attempts to bring transit into the city have failed due to a lack of available funding, city officials believe they’ll be able to seal the deal this time around due to the countywide quarter-percent sales tax for transportation and transit funding the county recently adopted.

Read more: Washington County adopts quarter-percent sales tax for road, transit funding

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests (for transit) and have for a number of years from our own citizens,” Carter said.

While it could take up to a year to receive a bus needed for a new route into Washington City, Carter told the council that a route has already been mapped out that would start at Deseret Industries in St. George and pass through the downtown area while also stopping at the Sullivan Soccer Park before looping back.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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