Honorable Members of the City Council:
On behalf of the residents of Riverton City, I am pleased to submit to you the Mayor’s Budget for fiscal year 2020 for your consideration. The fair and conservative budget I am proposing comes about after extensive collaboration with our city manager, administrative services director, and other executive staff. There is a healthy balance in this budget where the city takes a fiscally responsible approach, while still aggressively working toward achieving our strategic priorities.
Last year’s budget allowed for many significant accomplishments. This year’s Mayor’s Budget is meant to continue that upward trend while furthering the state of our city as strong, prosperous, and growing. This budget allocates our precious resources to maintain a strong trajectory for our city, while accomplishing the goals set forth by the governing body in our vision and mission statements and strategic priorities.
Here are a few highlights from the proposed budget:
- The total budgeted expenditures are just over $43.8 million, excluding transfers. Residents should keep in mind that unlike previous years, this year’s budget includes the cost for law enforcement at $5.8 million. Additionally, the budget includes just under $4 million in grant money received by the State of Utah and Salt Lake County for roadway projects.
- With the creation of the Riverton Police Department (RPD), the budget includes funding for the department, 35 new officers and 4 civilian staff we will employ. The department will include 9 more sworn officers in precinct than what was provided to the city by Unified Police Department (UPD). This, combined with an increase in what we would be paying UPD for the coming year, amounts to well over $1.2 million in added value for the city.
- There are no new fee increases included in this budget. Over the last five years, Riverton residents have seen no net rate increase and I am proud to continue that trend in this year’s budget.
- The General Fund is the largest in size of the funds and is 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. Across all funds, staff submitted a total of $16.2 million in one-time and ongoing requests for projects this year, with $7.9 million being recommended in this budget.
- Increasing sales tax revenues continue to show the growing economic vitality of our city and reflects the success that businesses are seeing. We are projecting the city will have received $7.5 million in sales tax revenues at the close of this fiscal year; an increase of 34% since 2015. Increasing sales tax revenues are a key reason why the City Council is able to keep fees and taxes low, including in this budget.
- Having a strong, diverse staff is crucial to keeping a city functioning properly. In total, our costs associated with wages and benefits is $16.6 million. This cost includes a merit increase of 3.5% and benefit increases to keep our pay and benefits competitive. Initially, there were requests for 12 additional full-time employees from various departments, which was then narrowed down to 2 additional full-time employees in this budget. While thinking outside of the box, we have been resourceful with staff position duties to keep our overall staff number low. With the addition of 2 full-time employees and RPD staff (including crossing guards), our city’s total full-time employee count is 179.25. Excluding RPD staff, this puts the city at 2.63 FTEs per 1,000 in population. Proudly, we are at the low end of employees in comparison to surrounding cities. It often goes without saying, but we are able to do more with less here in Riverton.
- As stated before, the Mayor’s Budget took into account our strategic priorities. In keeping with the city’s strategic priority of having a well-connected community with properly maintained utilities and infrastructure, this budget includes $1.3 million in road maintenance funding and $3.9 million in new road construction funding from grants received from the state and county. Just like in previous years, we will continue to increase the amount of road construction funding, which includes asphalt overlays and crack/slurry seals.
- Residents continue to express their thoughts on the needs for sidewalks, tree replacement, and additional traffic calming devices throughout the city. In reaction to these requests there is just over $500 thousand allocated for curb, gutter, sidewalk, and safety projects. There is also $22 thousand included for traffic calming devices and $53 thousand for tree replacement throughout our beautiful city. The budget also includes $200 thousand in funding for a dog park and for fish pond improvements received through grants from Salt Lake County.
- As we move into the future and the needs of our city change, it is important for us to look at more conservative and smarter ways of doing things. Right now, we have four years left on our sanitation agreement. It is my belief that we should look at all our options to plan for the expiration of that contract. My recommendation at this point would be to push ourselves to become self-sufficient and haul our own waste, as we are continually being pressured to raise our rates. In theory, we could lease our own garbage trucks, employ our own waste services staff, and save a significant amount of money while meeting the needs of our residents. There is no reason to spend money on services that we can easily supply on our own. In order to keep sanitation costs low for residents, the city subsidizes roughly $700 thousand from our REDIIF funds to pay for sanitation, a practice we have employed since 2012.
- Our city is in a good position financially, and this includes the amount of debt we owe. The city continues to maintain its General Fund balance near the state allowed maximum. Other fund balances are very healthy as well. Our principal balance in total debt has decreased by 22% in the last five years, from $45.1 million in 2015 to $35.2 million today, this equates to a drop from roughly $1,118 to $782 per capita when considering both debt reduction and population growth. We are just a couple years away from paying off our secondary water bonds in full, which is an exciting prospect.
- For many years our city hall and community center have been neglected. Last year’s budget included funding for renovations to beautify and enhance the front of city hall. To continue in that effort, this year’s budget includes $350 thousand in one-time expenditures for the council chamber, community center, city plaza, as well as the cemetery. These are public facilities and it’s our duty to maintain them and improve them when time and financial circumstance allow.
- Emergency management will be a priority for the coming year. This budget includes funding for a part-time, contract emergency manager who will lead the city’s efforts to ensure we are properly prepared in the event of an emergency.
The priorities outlined in our strategic plan have guided the development of this budget. I am confident that this budget will allow us to continue to achieve our goals and progress as a city. The vision and forward thinking of the City Council have greatly aided in our city’s progress over the last year and half, and I’d like to thank each of you for your dedication to the city. The commitment and contributions of our city staff in preparing this budget need to also be recognized. Countless hours went into the preparation of this budget. I’m grateful for their work.
As you review and consider this budget, I would encourage you to solicit feedback from our residents and involve them in the budget process as much as possible. After all, we work here as a governing body on their behalf. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or comments.