Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 17, 2022
Tooele City holds budget hearing

The Tooele City Council held another public hearing regarding their 2022-2023 fiscal year budget at their Auig. 3 meeting.

The tentative budget was first adopted on May 4. A public hearing was held on June 15 as required by law. 

After the public hearing in June, the City Council adopted a new tentative budget, based on the proposed property tax increase.

During their meeting, Shannon Wimmer, finance director presented the budget.

Joe Scarborough told the council that now is the worst time to build a new fire station during the public hearing. 

“I do construction and right now is probably the worst time to build a building,” he said, speaking about the new fire station that is included in the city’s budget. “Wages are higher, materials are higher — if you can get the guys to show up. From now on, we are going to pay for a fire department that we could have waited two years to build and built it for half the cost.”

Lynn Roth, who has lived in Tooele for five years, told the council that he doesn’t see the need for salary increases.

“Overwhelmingly in every department, 90 plus percent of those departments are salary increases; huge salary increases,” he said. “You are increasing the budget to take it out of someone else’s pocket.”

After the public hearing was over, Justin Brady, council chairman explained that the city has impact fees that they need to use or they will lose them, so it was important that the fire station be built soon.

He also told those in attendance that the pay raises were necessary.

The 114-page budget book highlights information about taxation, special revenue funds, water, sewer, solid waste and stormwater, capital projects, enterprise funds, and allotted money for city departments and employees, among other information.

Sales tax is the largest source of revenue for the city and accounts for approximately 30% of the total general fund revenue, according to information in the budget book. All taxable sales in Tooele City are taxed at a rate of 7%.

Property tax is the city’s second largest source of revenue, which represents 24% of total general fund revenue. Property tax is a more stable revenue source than sales tax and is distributed to school districts, municipalities, and special districts, with over 65% of property tax being allotted to public and private schools. In 2021, Tooele City received approximately 20% of property tax payments, according to the budget book.

The tax rate the City Council is proposing is 0.002411. This means that a home worth $391,000 would pay an increase of taxes of $162 per year or $13 a month.

Franchise tax is collected from utilities, including natural gas, electricity, and cable TV. State law limits the amount of franchise tax for natural gas and electricity to 6%. Cable TV is assessed at a franchise tax amount of 5%, according to information in the budget. Last year, electricity franchise tax accounted for around $1.3 million in tax revenue.

Parks, arts, and recreation tax is collected at a sales tax rate of 0.001% in the city. The money collected is spent on parks, recreation, and cultural facilities, like the Tooele City Arts Council and Fridays on Vine activities.

The city’s general fund, which pays for functions associated with a municipal government, such as police, fire, street crews, recreation, and community development receives revenues from property tax, sales tax, licenses and permits, fees for service, grants, and transfers from other funds within the city.

In 2021, the city collected over $5 million in property tax, $8 million in sales tax, and over $1 million in licenses and permits for the general fund. The general fund is made up of 29% sales tax, 21% property tax, 16% charges for service, and 11% intergovernmental revenue, among other revenues.

The general fund pays the mayor’s salary of $86,102, City Council salaries of $12,054, and the new fire chief’s salary of $106,231, excluding what they receive from the RDA, according to Wimmer.

In 2021, the police department received over $6 million to pay their employees, provide benefits, and operating expenditures, which accounted for around 24% of the general fund. Other Tooele City employee costs are on page 34 of the Tooele City budget at tooelecity.org.

Special revenue funds, according to the budget, don’t cover all costs of a particular service and include parks, arts, and recreation tax, park capital project funds, public safety, capital projects funds, redevelopment agency funds, and road funds.

A capital projects fund is used to account for financial resources to be used for a acquisition, construction, or improvement of major capital assets and will include the new fire station building, which will cost $2.3 million, projects for the Tooele Aquatic Center, totaling over $250,000, and new machinery and equipment needed for Tooele City totaling around $312,000.

Enterprise funds, obtained from user fees, cover the cost of services provided including personnel, operating costs, debt service, and overhead, according to information from the budget. An enterprise fund only covers the cost of providing the service and does not make a profit. Tooele City’s enterprise funds consist of the water, sewer, and solid waste fund, storm water fund, and streetlight fund.

Overall, Tooele City’s budget is made up of 53% of revenues from the general fund and15% revenues from the water fund, along with other small percentages of funds.

Each year, preparing the budget proves challenging, according to Wimmer.

“The biggest challenge of preparing the budget every year is balancing the needs of the city while being cognizant of the burden placed on the taxpayer,” Wimmer said. “The city is required to perform certain services for the community and the community expects a certain level of service in those and other areas. The service and amenities provided by the city contribute to the quality of life of our residents. It is a great responsibility to balance the needs of the city and the burden of taxes, especially in the current market where inflation is at an all-time high. The current market is causing our expenses to significantly increase, but is also significantly impacting the taxpayer in their everyday expenses as well. The mayor and City Council are acutely aware of the affects our increasing costs have on the taxpayer and we are working diligently to balance their responsibilities to manage the city in an efficient manner and also manage the impact that has on the residents of Tooele City.”

Each year beginning in January, Wimmer, the mayor, and the City Council begin to prepare the budget.

 

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