A weeklong series of community meetings that ended Thursday attracted between 250 and 350 residents who gave their comments - most of them negative - on the proposed city budget.
"The four meetings so far haven't been very helpful," Councilman Harvey Cahoon said Thursday after the first resident to speak lobbed a threat about voting council members out of office if taxes were raised. "People will say what they're against, but they won't say what they're for, or how they're going to pay for it."The proposed budget includes a property tax increase of about $70 per year on a $67,000 home; proposes the elimination of the storm sewer fee, $50.40 annually on a single-family residence; adds a 6 percent utility franchise tax; and drops the city's retail license fee. Cuts in city staff also are proposed.
The community meetings, held in elementary schools, were a preface to a public budget hearing scheduled June 14 in City Hall.
Councilman Dave Plouzek said representatives of the city's employees association dominated the open-forum question period during the second meeting, June 2, with questions about employee raises and a proposal to eliminate three firefighter positions and defer all medical response to county paramedics and the private ambulance company that operates in West Jordan.
Plouzek said the city staff amended its presentation several times after the first meeting to anticipate questions expected during the rest of the series. The meetings got better as they went along, Plouzek said. Ca-hoon, after he chided residents Thursday for offering criticism he felt was not constructive, said questions and comments later Thursday were the best he had encountered.
Mayor Bob Roberts stressed that the tentative budget was accepted for discussion by a 3-2 vote of the council and more debate is likely on the issues that were common among all of the community meetings.
Surveys containing questions about taxing, capital projects and city service levels were distributed to residents at the meetings. Survey results should be tabulated Monday for the council's use in settling major budget issues.