Highlights from Cottonwood Heights' tentative budget
May 20, 2019 10:09AM
● By Cassie Goff
The proposed city budget continues to provide funding to Unified Fire Authority (UFA) for three-person crews, which was a reduction implemented last year from four-person crews. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)
By Cassie Goff | [email protected]
The tentative budget for the city of Cottonwood Heights was approved on May 7 by the city council. This budget involves a .52 percent increase to revenue, some potential budget cuts that were originally proposed last year, and some new expenditures unique to the 2019–2020 budget year.
After the council approved a 13.4 percent tax increase last year, residents will probably be pleased to know that the council will not be proposing a tax increase this year. In fact, there probably won’t be another tax increase for a few years. Instead, different forms of revenue are being evaluated, including a storm water fee and a telecom fee.
Many cities have a documented layout of their storm water facilities and roads. While Cottonwood Heights has put a lot of effort into recording and evaluating all their roads, mapping the city’s storm water system has been tricky. The city plans to update their Storm Water Master Plan. In doing so, storm water projects would need to be considered (such as raising buried storm drain manholes, the Turnagain Cove sump project, and the Mountain Estates Drive sump project). If the city were to pursue and implement a storm water fee, it would generate around $500,000 annually. This fee has been recommended for consideration by City Manager Tim Tingey, Finance Director Scott Jurges and Public Works Director Matt Shipp.
Additionally, many cities incorporate a telecom fee. When Cottonwood Heights was incorporated, the telecom fee wasn’t. If that fee were to be implemented, it would generate around $450,000 in revenue annually. Cottonwood Heights will also be receiving revenues generated from the public transportation funding initiative proposed by S.B. 136 in the form of $600,000, which is a new source of revenue for the city.
Last year in budget discussions surrounding the tax increase, the city council proposed many budget cuts. Some of those cuts were made and have since provided savings in expenditures for the budget. Others are still up for deliberation.
The proposed cut that received the most attention last year was to emergency management. As the United Fire Authority (UFA) re-evaluated their budget, the Cottonwood Heights City Council made the decision to cut one staff member from each fire station, meaning that each crew was minimized to a three-person crew instead of a four-person crew. That decision is still in effect. In addition, the duties performed by the previous emergency management manager were reallocated to Assistant Chief Paul Brenneman and Police Administrative Assistant Julie Sutch.
One of the cuts proposed last year, now being reconsidered, is to city engineering services. Currently, engineering services are contracted out to Gilson Engineering, which costs around $285,000 annually. Instead, an in-house city engineer position has been proposed, which would run the city around $135,000. The result would end up looking like $125,000 in savings annually.
Capital Fund expenditures unique to the 2019–2020 year’s budget include, elections, surveys, sustainability initiatives, trail projects and street funding.
Usually, the cost for the city’s biannual elections are easily anticipated. However, with the recent referendum, the city may have to allocate an extra $60,000 toward elections.
In 2016 and 2017, the city hired Y2 Analytics to conduct a city-wide survey to gauge public opinion on a number of different of topics. For this budget year, $15,000 has been set aside to update community expectations with a new resident survey.
When the city committed to a 100% renewable energy goal by 2022, many individuals recommended the implementation of a sustainability manager. There was even suggestion that the sustainability manager could be a shared employee between neighboring cities. The current budget allocated $60,000 to fund a planning technician, which would enable the division to provide long-range planning efforts and pursue sustainability objectives for the city.
Street funding expenditures are estimated to cost $1,650,400. This estimate includes striping for city roads, neighborhood slurry projects, road work for 200 and 2021 projects, Scottish Drive Overlay and 3000 East Overlay.
Trail projects are estimated to cost $2,000,000. This estimate includes the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, the Ferguson Canyon Park & Ride and the East Jordan Canal Trail.
Other expenditures that have been discussed but are not currently in this year’s budget include sustainability technology and open space funding.
For sustainability, the council has discussed getting solar panels installed for City Hall. Based on a study, the cost would be somewhere between $468,585 and $607,230 prior to building structural costs. In addition, electric vehicle charging stations have been proposed. In previous discussions, the proposal was to install them at City Hall. However, in recent discussion, the suggestion has been made to put charging stations closer to the Fort Union shopping centers. The estimated cost for charging stations would be around $30,000 up front plus $5,000 to $10,000 annually. Lastly, a rain barrel initiative was proposed, which would cost around $5,000.
Lastly, based on estimates from Salt Lake County for regional parks, acquiring and developing a dog park for the city would cost around $750,000 to $1,500,000.
As this tentative budget has been approved, the city council has a little over a month to look it over and make any revisions. On June 18, the city will hold public comment. Finance Director Scott Jurges encourages anyone who has a comment to communicate with him or the council.
On June 22, the final budget will be voted on by the city council.
To view the tentative budget, please visit www.cottonwoodheights.utah.gov/community/city_news/.