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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood Heights anticipates increased revenue for 2021-22, despite the pandemic

May 26, 2021 12:44PM ● By Cassie Goff

United Fire Authority (UFA) has reallocated their fee structure so Cottonwood Heights will be adjusting their budget for public safety.

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

The final 2021-22 Fiscal Year (July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022) budget for Cottonwood Heights will be adopted by the Cottonwood Heights City Council on June 15. Residents can comment on the proposed budget until 5 p.m. on June 15 as there will be numerous opportunities for public comment, including a public hearing on June 1 during the city council meeting at 7 p.m.

On May 4, Administrative and Financial Services Director Scott Jurges and City Manager Tim Tingey presented the tentative budget to the City Council. Later that night, the Council unanimously passed Resolution 2021-17: adopting the tentative budget and establishing June 1 as the public hearing date.  

“This budget was shaped by the (Compensation and) Budget Committees from the first of the year,” Tingey said. 

Altogether, city expenditures are budgeted for $18,512,107. Some of the newest expenditures for this upcoming year will include elections, solar equipment for City Hall, Public Works building updates, bike lanes ($35,000), Butlerville Days ($66,000), Forbush Cemetery contribution ($2,500 for historical preservation and maintenance), Community Renewable Energy Act participation ($35,000), and increases for litigation ($33,080), Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC), Central Wasatch Committee (CWC) ($5,000), and Unified Fire Authority (UFA), among others. 

As there will be a municipal election this year for three city council seats (district 3, district 4, and mayor), election expenditures have been accounted for within the current budget. Managing the election with Salt Lake County will cost the city $45,000. 

In efforts to meet the city’s sustainability goals, City Hall (2277 Bengal Blvd.) will be equipped with solar panels. In planning to do so, city staff members submitted a proposal for a grant. As long as the grant is approved by the Rocky Mountain Blue Sky Community Project the city will match the costs at $350,000 ($516,189 in total). 

Since 2016, Public Works Department staff members have been working out of temporary buildings in the public works yard (6579 S. 3000 East). Public Works Director Matt Shipp is hoping to update their facilities, which will cost around $25,000. The construction will not only improve the working environment of the staff members but also benefit the lifespan of the vehicles as staff will be able to complete repairs in-house and “the vehicles will not be baking in the sun all day,” Jurges said.  

Public safety for Cottonwood Heights (Cottonwood Heights Police Department (CHPD) and Unified Fire Authority (UFA)) relies on Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) for dispatch. VECC has been working to make their operations more efficient. In doing so, they will be implementing an increase for users this year. The increase for Cottonwood Heights will be $73,000 for their new allocation method. 

Another $7,500 will be spent in the CHPD budget for diversity and de-escalation training, as well as $32,000 for snow day traffic control overtime. 

“Thank you for funding diversity and de-escalation in the police budget,” said resident Ken Garner during public comments on May 4. “It’s something we have been talking about and highly support as a police reform issue that should be addressed.” 

Per usual, the biggest expenditure for Cottonwood Heights is the staff. This year’s budget will reflect a $607,368 cost impact to compensation for city employees for annualization of the market adjustment, cost of living (COLA), merit adjustments, health cost increase of 0.5%, and disability increases (between 21% and 24%). Paid time off (PTO) reserves are around $1.9 million in the budget. 

“Employees are the largest dollar amounts,” said Jurges on May 4. 

Initially, expenditures within the budget were smaller as revenues were expected to be down from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the council and staff have been pleasantly surprised as sales tax revenue remains up, an almost $1 million increase than what was previously expected. 

“Sit-down restaurants are still really hurting but we are doing OK with everything impacting the city as a whole,” Jurges said. 

The city anticipates a $7.2-million dollar revenue from sales tax, an around 30% increase if the current trends stay as anticipated. In addition, property tax revenue is anticipated to be $8,113,137. The property tax rate will be finalized by the County Auditor on June 8 so the city will have a better understanding of that revenue stream for the year then. 

Revenue funds of $3,635,000 will be available to the city from the County Option Highway Sales Tax, Energy Use Tax, Fee in Lieu of Property Tax (vehicles), Franchise Taxes (Cable TV), and Telecom Franchise Tax. Class C road funds will provide the city with $1,240,000 of revenue as well. 

Altogether, the total revenues budgeted for Cottonwood Heights is $21,515,887 (which represents a $1,530,000 increase, or 7.7% overall increase). 

In addition, the state approved a continuation of quarter-to-quarter funding so the city will most likely see $400,000 from that allocation. Jurges hypothesizes that amount will be divvied throughout the year and come through the State Tax Commission, similar to Class C Road Funds. This money can be spent on roads and, most likely, trails. 

As city councilmembers and staff members have high hopes for the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, the funds will likely go toward the trail connections. If the city can gain more revenue, there are intentions to improve the open space around the city, including Ferguson Canyon and other parks and trails. 

“We know the public would enjoy more parks, but it’s a money battle. There’s always replacement and maintenance,” Jurges explained. 

On May 4, Community and Economic Development Director Mike Johnson reported the city had received a grant of $150,000 from Wasatch Front Regional Council for Ferguson Canyon Park. 

Lastly, funds from the American Rescue Plan will be included in this year’s budget, but the city is currently unsure about the amount they will receive and how they will be allowed to spend those funds. The current understanding is that the city will receive $3 million. Jurges anticipates a heavy discussion and budget adjustment when it’s finalized by the federal and state government. 

“The guidelines for expenditures are so iffy but we hope to cover some salary for public safety,” Jurges said. 

Details within this story will most likely change as the city receives more information about grants, a citywide storm water fee, UFA fee increases, property tax rates, revenue funds from the state and federal government, and various other adjustments. 

“We will have many edits before the final adoption on June 15,” said Mayor Michael Peterson.