Cedar City Council approves $54 million budget, focuses on more police, less debt

The Cedar City Council has five candidates vying for two open seats in the upcoming election, Cedar City, Utah, July 14, 2021 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News /Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — The Cedar City Council unanimously approved the fiscal year budget for 2021-2022 in Wednesday’s meeting, addressing key personnel issues and planning for the future.

Cedar City Cemetery, in this stock image, received funds for capital improvements in the new budget, Cedar City, Utah, June 3, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Finance officer Jason Norris estimated that including all funds and transactions, the budget accounts for over $54 million.

“I think our residents need to know that Cedar City is in good shape financially,” council member Scott Phillips told Cedar City News. “We weathered the pandemic very well. No one on the city staff was laid off or furloughed. The mayor’s budget that was proposed was solid and inclusive.”

Phillips went on to say that the budget addressed three key areas: staffing, planning and lowering debt service.

“First, we were able to provide compensation increases for all city staff members,” Phillips said. “We think that’s important because they’re our most valuable resource, they keep the city running day in and day out.”

Second, in terms of planning, Phillips said the budget addresses the need to work on a future wastewater treatment plant, tree, road and irrigation system improvements  in the city cemetery, future parks in the city and planning for long term street maintenance and construction.

“We think all that’s important because of the incredible growth we’ve seen in the city,” Phillips said.

Third, Phillips added, the city retired debt to some of its bonds and paid off the Heritage Theater, the city parking garage and city offices.

“Lowering the debt service makes this a very solid budget,” Phillips said. 

A stock image of a Cedar City Police vehicle as the new budget approves the hiring of three new officers, Cedar City, Utah, June 9, 2021 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

The budget allocates funds for the Cedar City Police Department to hire three new officers- two patrol and one traffic enforcement officer.

“The need for those officers cannot be overstated,” Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams said. “The Cedar City Police Department alone saw an increase of over 4,000 service calls last year. That’s remarkable when you consider the previous three or four years only saw increases in the hundreds.”

Funds in the budget allow the creation of a Patrol III category for officers, which will enable more experienced Cedar City patrol officers to have an upwardly mobile path on the career ladder.

Further, the budget calls for a corporal already on the police department roster to get promoted to sergeant. 

“We’ve had officers dealing with calls by themselves, which is taxing,” Adams said. “These new officers will allow us to at least get a good start to dealing with the traffic increases due to all of our growth. This is way past due.”  

The budget also allocated funds to create a new Communications Specialist position in the Economic Development Office.

One of the most notable increases in this year’s budget compared to last is in the water fund.

Fiscal year 2020-2021 budgeted $4,894,776 in revenues and expenses in the water fund, while this year’s budget for the water fund is $10,201,402, showing an increase of over $5 million.

Norris said that the increase comes mainly from capital projects, the largest being a culinary well at $1.95 million and a water tank which cost $2.25 million.

“Both of those were paid for with water impact fees that we had on hand there in the water fund,” Norris said. 

Council member Phillips was optimistic about the budget.

“Our residents should be pleased with how well the city is managed,” he said.   

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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