Honorable members of the City Council:
It is after extensive consultation with senior staff and careful consideration of our strategic planning documents that I submit to you the Riverton City Mayor’s budget for fiscal year 2019.
As indicated in my State of the City address earlier this year, our City is strong, prosperous and growing. This budget allocates precious City resources to help us maintain that strong trajectory, while actualizing the goals set by the governing body in our vision and mission statements, and strategic priorities.
Here are a few of the highlights from the budget:
- The total budget is just over $33 million when excluding incoming or outgoing transfers. Residents should keep in mind that due to the City’s participation with the Unified Police and Unified Fire services, the City budget does not include the cost for law enforcement and emergency services. These costs are levied via property taxes by service areas, which add up to about $10.5 million.
- The General Fund is the largest in size of the funds and also where the bulk of employee and operational costs are kept. Other funds may vary considerably from one year to the next due to capital projects, however the change in General Fund expenditures year over year is usually a sign of the fiscal discipline of a City. This budget shows expenditures of $8.9 million, excluding transfers, which is about $40,000 less than last year and $170,000 less than 2016-2017. This is notable particularly in light of a 3% increase to salaries and benefits, and adding an additional 1.75 full time equivalent employees in this budget. The addition of these employees brings our total full-time equivalent count to about 111, or about 2.5 employees per 1000 residents. As discussed in the State of the City, this figure is well below that of our surrounding cities and is a great indicator of efficiency.
- Sales tax revenue is forecasted to increase by 6% to almost $7.2 million. This is an all-time record for our City, and I believe this increase is still conservative based on the opening of Mountain View Village this fiscal year. Over the last ten years, our sales tax revenue has grown an amazing 61%, and this year it allows our General Fund balance to achieve a 25% cushion.
- A state law last year restricted municipalities’ ability to assess business license fees for certain home-based businesses. Philosophically, I agreed with this decision and believe the City should expand this to all standard businesses. For such businesses, the City carries no additional burden of licensure within our jurisdiction, as the fire and county health inspections required before we grant licenses are conducted by those other parties. I believe that this move aligns with our strategic plan and promotes Riverton as a place that is open and free to do business.
- A subsidy from general fund revenues that covered the majority of expenses for sanitation was established in fiscal year 2012. This was done to make the effects of a new property tax from annexation into the law enforcement service area revenue neutral for the average household. As costs have continued to climb, the governing body has struggled over recent years to find a way to bring this enterprise fund more into balance, while maintaining low fees for our residents. After careful review of our sanitation and secondary water funds, it was found that our City could apply substantially more in secondary water impact fees towards the outstanding water bond debt service than in years past. I recommend that we use at least $1 million a year over the next three years from secondary water impact fees to cover the bulk of the $1.7 million annual debt service of the remaining water bonds. This move allows a proposed reduction of $5 per month in secondary water rates across the board. Sanitation rates will be increased $4 on the first tote, which still includes a recycling can for free. These changes would bring the sanitation fund much more into balance, while still providing a level of subsidy to that fund that approximates what was done in the first year of annexation to the law enforcement service area. And, even with these changes, our sanitation, recycle and additional tote charges are still far below any of our surrounding cities, while reducing the fee burden on almost every user. In short, if you have one garbage and sanitation tote, the secondary water fee reduction in your bill will have you see a net reduction of $1/month in total costs.
- In keeping with the strategic priority of having a well-connected community with properly maintained utilities and infrastructure, there is over $1.1 million in road maintenance and $2.3 million in new road construction in this budget. After several years of lean revenues for roads, through legislative appropriations, increased gasoline tax revenue and road impact fees, there is room this year to substantially increase the amount of road construction that includes asphalt overlays and crack/slurry seals.
- Residents frequently express their thoughts on the needs for sidewalks, tree replacement and additional traffic calming devices throughout the City. Capitalizing on increased revenue from sales tax monies this fiscal year, the budget allocates more than $200,000 toward these infrastructure improvements. These types of improvements were largely the projects that individual council members had asked for in their Council Directed Projects funds, which have been removed from the proposed budget. Budgeting for these projects in their proper departments will lead to an increased level of transparency and will follow a standard procurement process as required by City Ordinance and State Law.
- The budget also includes just over $500,000 toward the betterment of our City Hall and cemetery. The City has a unique opportunity with the Redwood Road widening project to improve access to and beautify the front of our City Hall. Additionally, the City Council has recently approved the purchase of an acre of property that will be annexed into the cemetery, allowing for approximately 1000 more burial plots. Based on the fact that our cemetery has no available lots, and the timing of lots sold the last time the cemetery was expanded, a sale of approximately 300 burial lots in this year’s budget is anticipated.
- In an effort to increase community participation and engagement, additional advisory committees have been created this year and started to organize around economic development, events, parks, recreation and emergency preparedness. The proposed budget calls for spending $50,000 on these boards and committees, which figure also includes continued funding and some increases for the Riverton Arts Council, Historic Preservation Commission, Jordan River Commission, Youth Council, and Senior Center.
- To help the City continue to drive efficiencies with the goal of operational excellence stated in the strategic plan, the budget includes increases in IT and software expenditures. By leveraging newer technologies, we improve the accessibility of residents and businesses to our employees, services, and make our processes more transparent and efficient.
I want to thank the council for working so diligently on the strategic plan, which guided this Mayor’s budget. I also want to thank senior staff, and in particular our finance department for their untiring commitment to not just compiling the budgetary numbers, but also responding to a myriad of inquiries. Last, but not least, I want to thank the residents of our great community. Your contributions are neither unnoticed nor taken for granted. I look forward to and encourage your feedback and participation on this budget. Please do reach out to me and the council with any ideas on how the budget or process may be improved.