Utah's 46 largest cities will spend an estimated $291.7 million by the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, an increase of $9 million or 3.2 percent over the preceding year, despite calls for tax relief by Utah citizens.
The estimate is contained in a report released this week by the Utah Foundation, a private tax research organization.The report is based on budget plans submitted by cities to the State Auditor's Office at the beginning of the present fiscal year. Excluded from the analysis were revenues and expenditures for capital projects, debt service, utility operations and other special items. The report notes, however, that there will be some adjustments to the final figures as cities re-open budgets to deal with special problems that occur during the year.
Park City will spend the most per capita, some $1,398 for each resident, according to the report. At the bottom of the list is South Jordan at $108 per resident. The average is $276. Park City's spending reflects its resort city status. Though it has a small permanent population, the large transient population puts unusual service demands on the city and as a result, per capita spending increases to meet those demands, the report states.
Per capita spending tends to be higher in the larger more urban cities. This is again a reflection of the demand for services generated by the non-resident population. The report notes that larger cities must provide services for individuals who work in the city or otherwise use its facilities. In addition, the larger cities usually provide more sophisticated and costly municipal services than do smaller communities.
Law enforcement, streets and public improvements and general government are the three largest areas of public expenditure for Utah cities. These three items account for about two-thirds of all budgeted expenditures in the 46 cities studied.
The local option sales tax has become the largest single revenue producer in many cities, the report notes. It is expected that the local sales tax will produce $81.2 million or 28 percent of all general operating revenue in the surveyed cities. Under present state law, the maximum sales tax rate a city may impose is scheduled to rise to 1 percent Jan. 1, 1990. This increase will be offset by a scheduled reduction in the state sales tax rate leaving the combined state and local rate unchanged.
Property tax is the second greatest revenue source for the cities. It is expected to generate $67.3 million or 23.2 percent of total revenues. City tax rates were highest in Tooele and lowest in South Salt Lake. Among the 46 cities, rates went up in 22, were lower in 21, and remained unchanged in three.
The report noted that three tax initiatives defeated by voters in November would have lowered municipal revenues by $26.5 million and affected future year city budgets.
The top 10 cities in per capita spending are Park City, $1,398; Salt Lake City, $503; Murray, $463; South Salt Lake, $434; Price and St. George, $374; Vernal, $350; Ogden, $337; Moab, $321; and Midvale, $309. The bottom 10 are South Jordan, $108; Riverton, $115; Smithfield, $124; Clinton, $144; West Jordan, $150; Farmington, $161; Sunset, $165; Kaysville, $167; Pleasant Grove, $168; and Clearfield, $169. Of the bottom 10, five of the cities are in Davis County and three in Salt Lake County.