WEST JORDAN The battle over next year's budget in West Jordan is chugging toward a finish that will most likely include a 28 percent property tax increase that would bring the city $3 million more.
The City Council already approved increases to several contested fees and service charges, implemented a 3.5 percent telecommunications tax and increased the Municipal Energy Sales and Use Tax by half of a percent at a poorly attended council meeting Tuesday night.
The only revenue source left on the table to resolve is the property tax but a majority of the council has already voiced support of an increase.
"We're at a crossroads here at the city," Councilwoman Kathy Hilton said at a recent council meeting where the budget was discussed. "It makes me sad. We have worked so hard to be this city so we would be a called a first-class city.
"Right now I'm really scared that we can never become what we can become. Are we going to be a second-class first-class city so that every time we come up to raise taxes we cut services instead? It's time for this city to take the next step and be the examples we can be for this whole area."
The council approved increasing street-light maintenance fees and spreading the fee to businesses and multiple family housing units not just single-family residences. The fee increase from $1.13 a month to $1.50 a month will bring the city an additional $237,000.
In October, residents will also start paying a telecommunications tax that is anticipated to bring the city $1.5 million. The tax will be a 3.5 percent increase to all phone bills, including cell phones and fax lines.
Residents will also see a half-percent increase in the city's municipal energy sales and use tax in October, which will apply to gas and electric bills. The city anticipates receiving $350,000 from the increase.
The potential property-tax increase would mean an additional $69.96 per year for homes with a value of $247,000.
The city will have a truth in taxation hearing to gather public input on the proposed increases on Aug. 12. Two informal public forums are also scheduled for June 19 and 25 so residents can discuss the changes with council members. The location of the meetings has not yet been determined, but will be published and announced on the city's Web site, www.wjordan.com.
Few people attended Tuesday's meeting because the originally scheduled public hearing on the budget was delayed until August, but some residents say they're concerned their input won't have an impact on the council."We have two different views of what a first-class city is," said Clive Killpack, chairman of an independently organized citizens budget committee. "I'm not one who believes that just because other cities do something, we should too. I like the uniqueness of West Jordan. I'd hate to see us lose it."