It could cost more to live in West Point this fall, if the City Council approves a new franchise tax on utilities as part of its 1998-99 budget.
A public hearing on the possible utility tax is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at City Hall, 3016 W. 300 North.The proposed new budget is $1.42 million, up approximately $20,000 over the current fiscal year that ends June 30. A public hearing on adoption of the final budget plan will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at City Hall.
Because of increasing population, lack of commercial tax base and a desperate need for a new city building, the council is looking at instituting a possible 6 percent franchise fee on US WEST, Questar natural gas, cable TV and Utah Power bills starting Oct. 1.
The new tax would not start until October because the city must start it at the beginning of a yearly quarter. The last quarter of 1998 is the first one when all the utilities, who collect the taxes, would be ready to do so.
West Point is the only city in Davis County that lacks a utility franchise fee. It currently has a 4 per-cent franchise fee on cable TV, but nothing on the three utilities.
The utility tax could generate more than $100,000 a year for the city but would only add an estimated $65,000 for its partial-year, October-June, usage in the 1998-99 budget.
According to City Manager Scott Neilson, the council would use 4 percent of a possible 6 percent franchise tax to bolster the city's overall budget and maintain city services. The other 2 percent could go toward payment of a new city hall.
Neilson said several other area cities, including Syracuse, used a similar franchise tax system to finance new city halls.
West Point has been using a former house as its city hall for more than two decades.
"It's hard to accommodate more than five people at meetings," Neilson said.
However, a new city hall is not actually part of the new proposed budget. As of yet, no plans have been made for either the cost, design or location of a new city building.
Neilson describes the new budget as nothing elaborate - just the minimum of what's needed to serve the public. The city now has an estimated population of 7,000.
Besides the utility tax, no other fee or tax increases are proposed.
The new budget includes a $7,000 increase in police protection. That's because the city contracts with the Davis County Sher-iff's Office, which is raising its fee to reflect the additional time it spends in the city.
The fire department budget is also up, $3,000, because the city contracts with Clearfield City, which has also raised what it charges to reflect its service.
The budget also includes one major capital project - $230,000 for continuing storm drain work near the 300 North corridor. The latest storm drain project is planned for 3000 West, from 300 to 800 North, where a new elementary school will be built.
The administrative budget for the city is also up, mostly because it will be paying Neilson - its first-ever city manager - for a full year in this budget vs. only a partial year for 1997-98.
The income for fees/permits is also up dramatically because of the city's high growth rate.
Budget - West Point City
General fund: $1.42 million
General fund $1.4 million
Where it comes from:
Property tax: $167,000
Last year: $163,000
Sales tax: $316,000
Last year: $304,000
Franchise tax: $ 66,000
Last year: $ 0
Last year: $368,000
Storm sewer fund
Last year: $215,000
Last year: $161,000
Other revenues: $ 81,000
Last year: $189,000
Where it goes:
Last year: $147,000
Police: $ 67,000
Last year: $ 47,000
Fire: $ 56,000
Last year: $ 54,000
Parks and rec. $130,000
Last year: $128,000
Last year: $837,000
Community devel.: $ 21,000
Last year: $ 23,000
A new 6 percent utility franchise fee is proposed to begin Oct. 1.