It didn't happen this year, but it is inevitable, city leaders say.
A proposal to impose a 6 percent franchise tax on electricity, natural gas and phone services died in last week's City Council meeting.Levied by every city in Davis County except for West Point, the deletion of the franchise tax from the proposed 1998-99 budget left the city's balance about $65,000 in the red.
To make up for the missing $65,000, the city raised the cable television franchise tax from 3 percent to 6 percent, increased the building permit fee and took the remaining $20,000 from a leftover in the general fund, Mayor Jay Ritchie said.
Even though he said he was leaning toward the adoption of the new tax on utilities, Councilman Farrell Cook moved that the city not adopt the franchise tax after about 50 residents spoke against it. The motion died, but no motion was made to adopt the tax.
Despite this year's vote against the new tax, Cook said the city will have to consider it again in the future.
"We will be in the same situation a year from now," Cook said. "You can't run a city on building growth forever."
About $40,000 of the shortfall will come from increased building fees, but building has been slow for the past two years, Cook said.
City Manager Scott Nielson agreed with Cook on the need for another source of revenue. "The city doesn't have any commercial base or a way to get a good, consistent source of income," he said. "Unless we get a commercial base, I'm not sure how the city's going to function."
Ritchie said he did not support building a city hall until business and commercial development comes to West Point. Currently the city conducts its business in what was once a house. The council meets in a room that seats about a dozen people.
The money from the franchise tax, Ritchie said, would have been used to finance community needs such as improving roads and storm drains and the parks and recreation department.
A public hearing on the proposed 1998-99 budget is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the city building.