Faced with a $921,000 shortfall in its proposed 1988-89 budget, West Valley City Council members are looking at a possible garbage collection fee or raising property taxes.
Neither choice is acceptable to everybody. Many people undoubtedly would prefer no fees or higher taxes be imposed. But City Council members have to make some kind of decision.West Valley City was incorporated eight years ago, with lower taxes as one of the arguments. But like everywhere else, the issue of raising taxes has to be confronted sooner or later.
Options for the city are to establish a $4-a-month fee, have no fee, increase property taxes, or reduce city services. On a 4-3 vote the City Council last week rejected the proposed fee, deciding instead to find other ways of generating revenue.
Some of those voting against the fee say they are reluctant to increase property taxes, now some of the lowest among other cities. But they also say they don't know of any other way, other than the property tax, to raise needed revenue.
City officials have studied numerous alternatives aimed at solving the problem, with the $4 fee, which would have been collected through Utah Power & Light Co. bills, the least expensive. But even that method would cost the city about $69,000 a year, or 30 cents on every bill mailed out. Raising the money through property taxes would not cost the city any additional funds.
In the past the city has paid garbage collection costs through its general fund. There are concerns about opening up a whole new area of taxation, which could become permanent, but arguments also are made that those who use garbage collection service should pay for it.
A private contractor now picks up garbage from single family residences and duplexes, but doesn't pick up refuse from businesses or apartment buildings. One issue raised at a recent public hearing is that businesses are subsidizing the cost of residential garbage collection, yet have to contract for their own collection.
The West Valley City Council has tried to be frugal in the way it levies taxes and spends revenue. In fact, the mill levy has dropped from 9.95 mills in 1980, when the city was incorporated, to the present 7.97 mills.
City officials say most citizens are pushing them to provide a greater level of services. As usual, most people want more services, but are not always willing to pay for them.
If elected officials cannot come to an agreement on the garbage collection fee, then citizens may have to accept a modest property tax increase to offset the budget shortfall.