A final budget of nearly $15 million for the coming fiscal year was approved last week by the Layton City Council after a brief public hearing. No city residents attended to comment on the spending plan, which includes no tax or fee hikes.
The council estimates the city will take in $14,799,435 in the next fiscal year, much of it coming from bonds that will be sold to finance a new city municipal building.The budget calls for a $3.8 million bond issue, but council members have not decided whether the money will be raised through issuance of revenue bonds, which the city will pay off out of future tax and fee revenue, or general obligation bonds, which would have to be approved in a bond election.
Although planning for a new municipal building and circuit court complex, the council has not fully committed the city to its construction. No final plans have been drawn up or construction contracts put out.
While the mayor and a majority of the council favor forming a building authority to issue revenue bonds, councilman Gerald Nebeker is not convinced that's the way to go. He said in a work meeting preceding last week's council session he would prefer a bond election to give residents a chance to vote on the project.
Initial cost estimates for the complex are around $5.4 million, with $3.8 million coming from bond sales and the remaining $1.5 million from capital projects reserves.
Three other revenue sources account for most of the remainder of the city's budget: utility fees, sales tax and property tax.
The city expects to raise $3.5 million from utility charges, including water, sewer and garbage, or 24.1 percent of the city's budget. Sales taxes will bring in $2.2 million, or 15 percent of the budget, and property taxes will raise an estimated $1.9 million, or 13 percent.
The city's franchise tax, which is levied on electric and natural gas bills, is expected to raise $850,000 next year.
Of the estimated $471,351 the city expects to pay out to operate its new swimming pool and racquetball complex, only $303,000 will come from the facility itself. Other city departments using the office space in the building will pay $13,000 in rent; the city will transfer $35,000 from its general fund, and $120,000 in park impact fees will also go to underwrite the pool's operation.
Nebeker said at last week's meeting that some members of the city's parks and recreation advisory board are concerned about impact fees - which the city assesses on a per-lot basis on new subdivisions to pay for park acquisition and improvement - going to pay for the pool's operation.
They believe the money should be set aside for buying more park land before it is all gone, Nebeker said, and to develop and improve existing parks.
Mayor Richard McKenzie said the board initially approved the idea, and the city still has resources left, such as land trades, to set aside more park land.
In approving the budget, the city also officially forgave an $800,000 loan it made from the long-range capital projects fund to underwrite the pool's construction costs.
The loan was supposed to be repaid out of the pool's operating revenues but the facility has been operating at a loss and is unable to repay any of the loan. The resolution passed by the council forgiving the loan contains a stipulation that if the pool does begin to show a profit, the money can still be used eventually to pay off the loan.