Layton residents will escape any local tax increase in the coming year under the tentative city budget being prepared for the City Council. The budget is slightly higher than the current year's, but the council is looking for growth and a natural increase in city revenue to pay for it.

City Manager Bruce Barton told the council that along with no proposed tax increase, the budget calls for hiring no new full-time employees. It includes a $147,000 capital equipment expenditure, Barton said, and slight overall increases in operational expenses.The tentative budget includes $6,859,179 in the general fund, $471,351 in the swimming pool fund, $3,567,400 in the water utility fund, and an estimated $6,368,400 in the capital projects fund, including transferring $840,000 from the general fund.

The budget also calls for setting aside funds for long-range capital expenditures, recommending $2,462,600 for a new municipal building and circuit court complex and $117,400 for extension of Antelope Drive to connect to U.S. 89.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for 7:30 p.m. June 2 in City Hall.

The city continues to have a problem getting its new swimming pool to pay for itself, planning in the next year to supplement the pool's operating funds with $120,000 in park impact fees and $34,986 from the general fund. The city's parks, recreation and streets divisions all maintain their offices in the new building, and the city this year will charge them nearly $11,000 in rent to also help offset the facility's operating costs.

The swimming pool-racketball court complex has consistently generated less revenue that anticipated, and some costs have been higher than expected. City officials say the facility, which includes a wave-making machine and bubble cover for winter use, is a new concept and initial estimates of revenue and costs have been little more than educated guesses.

"The proposed budget also reflects an ongoing evaluation of the swimming pool operations to determine the degree of subsidy required from the general fund," Barton said.

The city estimated in its current budget that admission revenue from the pool would be $197,000 this year, but now expects it will only be $150,000 and has estimated it at $160,000 for next year.

Similarly, the city estimated court fees from the racketball courts would amount to $26,000 this year, but now says they will only total about $10,000, and estimated the same amount for next year.

Locker rental revenue was estimated at $40,000, but will probably total only $20,000, according to the budget, and revenue from concessions, such as food and drinks, will be about $45,000, far below the $69,000 estimated.

In one area however, revenue is running ahead of estimates: the city will earn $25,000 from renting rafts at the pool, ahead of the $18,000 estimated.

In the city's general fund budget, the police department receives the largest allocation: $1,833,807, which is down from the $2,178,231 budgeted for the current year. The department estimates it will spend $1,585,000 on salaries this year, less than the $1,670,000 in the budget, and has allocated only the amount being spent this year for paying its police officers next year.

The biggest change is in the police department's capital equipment spending, pegged at $300,000 this year, mostly for new vehicles, and only $42,000 for the coming year.

The city's fire department has a budget of $583,000 for next year, up slightly from the $529,000 set aside this year. Salaries are the largest expense, set at $266,178 for next year compared to the $264,415 budgeted for this year.

Most city departments show reduced figures for employee wages and benefits in the proposed budget, due partly to the council's decision to reduce the city's contribution to the employee retirement plan by 2 percent, according to finance director Steve Ashby.

And, Ashby said, an additional $100,000 budgeted for performance increases in the administration department's tentative budget doesn't mean all that money will go for city manager, mayor or council salaries.

Salaries are budgeted at $166,781 for the department for the current year and at $163,414 for the coming year. The additional $100,563 is designated for merit increases to be divided among the city's other departments when merit reviews are completed, Ashby said.

"We put that money there because we don't know at this point where it will go or how it will be divided among the other departments," Ashby said. Instead of guessing, or just spreading it around through the other departments, we decided to put it in that department temporarily."

Ashby said merit increases can run between 2.5 percent and 4 percent per employee. Although merit reviews have been done and are being processed, Ashby said he doesn't think final figures on salary levels for each department will be prepared in time for the June 2 public hearing on the budget.

Formal City Council action will be required later to amend the new budget to reflect the transfer of funds.