Because Mayor Joe Jenkins' proposed $53 million city budget for fiscal 1988-89 does not call for hikes in utility rates, service fees or property taxes, most residents will likely pay little attention to it.
But residents shouldn't assume the mayor's "no-hike" budget request means their utility bills and property taxes will not go up next year.Taxes definitely will be higher, although only slightly, and utility bills may very well go up too. (Highlights of Jenkins' budget are detailed on B4.)
Jenkins is not trying to mislead anyone. But citizens who don't take a look at the mayor's budget now may later feel they've been misled.
Here are three examples of how utility bills, service fees and property taxes can go up, even when increases aren't included in a budget request.
City officials have pledged to hold the line on utility rates next year, and the mayor's budget shows no rate increases. But city power customers probably will be paying higher electricity bills anyway as Provo passes along to ratepayers its rising costs of generating power.
The power cost adjustment allows the city to pass along to ratepayers any fluctuations, up or down, in the city's cost of generating power. Since the city's generation costs are rising, it's all but certain the power cost adjustment will go up, too.
The mayor is not requesting a general property tax hike for next year, but homeowners who look closely at their tax bills will notice a nominal increase.
Provo voters approved the property tax hike during a bond election two years ago. The increased tax revenue is earmarked to pay off general obligation bonds the city issued to finance $8 million in street improvement projects.
Because they're waiting to receive an amortization schedule for one series of the road bond issue, city officials don't yet know exactly how much the tax rate will increase next year. But homeowners will see an increase so slight they may not notice it - perhaps $2 to $3 more than this year on an $80,000 home.
Property taxes will continue to rise slightly each year over the next four years, then slowly start to go down and keep going down until the bonds are paid off. The owner of a $80,000 home is projected to pay an additional $86 in property taxes over the 12-year life of the road bonds.
Because the tax increase automatically is built into next year's budget, the mayor doesn't have to ask the council to raise taxes. And because voters have approved the higher taxes already, there will be no public hearing as required by law for general property tax increases.
The mayor's proposed budget does not ask for an increase in service fees next fiscal year because the City Council raised some of those fees last week.
That means the higher fees the council just approved will already be in effect at the July 1 beginning of the budget year, allowing city officials to truthfully say fees will not go up next year.
Jenkins' proposed budget projects the fee increases will bring at least $420,000 in additional revenue to Provo next year. However, the increased revenue is expected only to cover the city's cost of providing the connection and reconnection services, rather than bring a windfall.