ST. GEORGE — In a recent meeting of the St. George City Council, city officials adopted a $422,982,066 budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
This year’s budget includes $92,182,043 in general fund expenditures, a marked increase from $77,467,150 in 2020. The increase is mostly driven by the city’s need to “catch up on capital outlay projects that were put on hold due to economic uncertainty,” according to city manager Adam Lenhard’s budget message to city officials.
“We have withstood the health, social, and economic challenges of the pandemic,” Lenhard said in his message to city officials. “We are eager to move forward with many of the plans and projects that were postponed in our previous year’s budget.”
These capital outlay projects include a city campus expansion project ($30 million), in which the current City Hall and the Police Station will be renovated. Additionally, the St. George Police Department will receive $789,000 for 17 vehicles, as well as $169,000 to replace body cameras.
St. George Police Chief Kyle Whitehead told St. George News that the vehicles (15 SUVs and two trucks) would all be added to the department’s fleet of patrol vehicles.
“As the years have gone by, our vehicle pool has seen its challenges,” Whitehead said. “We’ve had a lot of high mileage vehicles that require a lot of maintenance. These new vehicles will require less maintenance, and they’ll be covered by a warranty.”
The new vehicles, Whitehead said, will also help the department to respond to calls in a timely manner.
“The trucks will be especially helpful because they’re for the bike patrol,” he said. “As we see more high-density buildings, the bike patrol becomes more important. Bike patrol officers can get to places that other vehicles can’t.”
Whitehead added that the budget will also enable the department to hire one new dispatcher, an office clerk and five sworn personnel.
“As the city keeps growing, we’re falling behind in hiring,” he said. “This began back in 2008, when the recession hit. We had to make some cut-backs. It’s my hope that, moving forward, we can hire more personnel to better serve this growing city.”
Traffic is one of the areas where he said he sees the need for more personnel, as well as bike officers.
“I’m afraid that, as housing becomes more expensive and harder to find, we may see more homelessness,” Whitehead said. “Among other things, our bike patrol is out there to help people find the services they need.”
The St. George Fire Department will receive $796,000 for a new custom-built fire engine called a pumper. The report said that a new fire station would be built in Little Valley, but it was unclear how much funding would go toward its construction.
St. George Fire Department Chief Robert Stoker spoke with St. George News from Pierce Manufacturing in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he was inspecting the pumper.
“The city has also approved in the upcoming budget to hire additional personnel to staff the fire station once completed,” Stoker said. “With the addition of this fire station, it will increase the overall capabilities of the fire department to serve the citizens and visitors of the city. This will also help reduce response times for service in the southeastern portion of the city.”
The budget also includes improvements to parks and sports fields ($9,919,454), and streets ($7,041,329). These projects will be paid for by the general fund, the report said, the bulk of which is comprised of taxes, including sales ($29 million), property ($12.6 million) and franchise ($7.5 million). The city will not propose a property tax increase; instead, they will rely upon new growth, which is anticipated to add $500,000 in revenue.
Additionally, the city expects to receive a $15.8 million American Rescue Plan grant, which will go toward sewer, water and broadband infrastructure, according to the report.
The airport expects to see $3,159,000 for rehabilitation projects for taxiways, runway aprons and drainage, which will be partially funded by an Federal Aviation Administration grant. The grant will also cover $1,033,000 for an air rescue and firefighting truck.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.