As one of the fastest-growing communities in the state, West Jordan is relying upon revenue expansion rather than tax increases to fill any gaps in its budget.
But City Manager Terry Holzworth cautions that the city is now operating "very close to the margin," suggesting that any significant increase in services in the future could force a tax or fee hike.The proposed 1991-92 budget, which Holzworth inherited from his predecessor, John Hiskey, reflects a basic policy decision by the City Council to "hold the line."
Any change that requires a tax or fee increase in this year's budget will take a "strong expression of support" from citizens at the upcoming budget hearing, Holzworth said.
"The public has to understand that in order to hold that line, the budget will be very tight," he said.
One change Holzworth is proposing would add 3 percent to a planned restructuring of the city's salary schedule to further reward performance and reflect market conditions. The increase would raise the total "pool" for salaries to 8 percent. Called "pay-for-performance," the restructuring replaces the annual merit increase.
Salaries on the low end of the scale likely would get a boost under the new system, and Holzworth hopes it will result in a lower staff turnover.
The new budget projects a 53 percent increase in the number of building permits issued, which will generate more fees and, in the future, a broader property tax base. Other revenues are expected to increase only slightly, if at all.
On the expenditures side of the budget, the city proposes funding two new council seats that were approved by voters last year, money to begin work on a civic center, joint funding (with Salt Lake County) of the construction of an outdoor swimming pool at Main Park, and a number of road improvements.
The tentative budget also addresses what it calls "misunderstanding and confusion" about the city's taxes, referring to assertions that West Jordan is "the highest taxed" community along the Wasatch Front.
"This perception is clearly not supported by the facts," according to a tax and fee report accompanying the budget document. "When fair comparisons are made, West Jordan ranks only $2.63 per month higher than the average taxes and fees of the surveyed cities."
The report says West Jordan's taxes and fees are $151.94 per year less than the most expensive city in the area and $190.07 higher than the least expensive.
"That is not bad," the report said. "In fact, it is impressive, considering West Jordan faces all of the financial stress of being one of Utah's fastest growing cities."
West Jordan Budget
General fund $8.95 $8.54
Other funds $12.06 $9.14
Where it goes:
Police $2.98 $2.86
Fire $ .90 $ .86
Public Works $1.58 $1.55
Where it comes from:
Property taxes $1.61 $1.55
Sales Taxes $2.76 $2.59
Utilities Taxes $1.14 $1.01
Tax/Fee hikes: none
Property Tax: $152.64 on an $80,000 home
Public hearing: Tuesday, May 21, 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1850 W. 7800 South.