City Hall, enjoying economic rebound, pegs budget at $87.7 million
May 20, 2014
It is budget season at City Hall.
And it is not expected to be nearly as difficult for Park City leaders to craft a spending plan as it was during the depths of the recession. Park City has enjoyed a robust rebound from the downturn, key figures like sales-tax collections and construction numbers show. That has given Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council room to maneuver as they consider the budget.
Staffers have proposed an $87.7 million balanced budget for the 2015 fiscal year, running from mid-2014 until mid-2015. The operating budget, which funds City Hall’s day-to-day expenses like salaries, is proposed at $53.9 million. The number is an approximately 5.5 percent increase from the 2014 fiscal year operating budget. The rest of the budget would be put into capital projects.
An increase in City Hall’s portion of property taxes is not requested. It has been years since City Hall has raised its portion of the property taxes. Staffers who have researched the topic have not found evidence of the last increase. Park City voters over the years, though, have passed ballot measures increasing property taxes to raise money for conservation purchases and pedestrian-bicyclist improvements.
There has been little apparent interest during the first weeks of the budget talks. The 2015 fiscal year will be the first of City Hall’s two-year budget cycle. The elected officials are scheduled to hold a series of additional discussions and hearings in the coming weeks. They include a May 29 discussion about operating expenses and fees, a June 5 talk about the compensation of elected officials and broad budget policies and capped by a June 12 meeting when the final budget will be presented. The City Council is expected to approve the budget at the June 12 meeting.
Some of the highlights, according to the Budget Department, include:
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The elected officials are also setting aside funds for capital projects. In the 2015 fiscal year, staffers propose making $5 million available for Main Street improvements as work continues on streetscape upgrades. The funding sources will be split between sales taxes and state grants. Improvements will include redone sidewalks and new plazas.
A second phase of improvements to Deer Valley Drive, estimated at just less than $1 million, is also envisioned in the budget. The work is planned this summer and would include bus pullouts, sidewalks and streetscape enhancements.
Funding for the renovation of the Park City Library and Education Center, a major project expected to cost $9.3 million, is split between the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. Of the total, $5 million is sought in the budget now being crafted.
Thomas and the City Council, meanwhile, are addressing the politically touchy topic of the compensation of elected officials — essentially their own salaries and benefit packages. A study conducted in recent months found the compensation trailed communities used as a comparison. A citizen commission seated to study the compensation recommended the compensation be increased.
The proposed budget calls for the salary of the mayor be increased to $42,553 annually from $23,467 per year, an 81.3 percent increase. The annual salary of the City Councilors would increase 71.9 percent, from $12,735 to $21,893. The increase, supporters say, could attract a wider field of candidates in City Hall elections.
The elected officials are also eligible for the municipal government’s family health and dental insurance plan, valued at $16,196.40 per year. They may receive the cash equivalent if they opt out of the coverage. The mayor receives a $3,000 car allowance annually.