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SOUTH S.L. NEGOTIATES ON SEWER CONSOLIDATION

More than 50 years ago, South Salt Lake City was founded, essentially to help the area get a good sewer system of its own.

Now, pending the outcome of on-going negotiations, the city's sewer system will be absorbed by a neighboring system in Salt Lake County.That's because federal regulations are making it more expensive to treat water. Prices will go up for city residents no matter what, and city officials have decided the best option is to try incorporation with the neighboring system, Mayor Jim Davis said.

That was one of the main issues approved and discussed as part of the city's 1990-91 final budget hearing.

Among other things, the city approved a 3 percent increase in the franchise tax, also called a utility tax.

The sewer fee means about $24 more per year per home in fees.

The franchise tax, for average utility users, means an average increase of about $10 to $20 per year, city officials said.

The increase in sewer fees comes as a result of clean-water laws passed by Congress, Davis said. "This is the price it costs to have cleaner water," Davis said.

Revenue from the franchise tax increase will be used in three areas:

- The city plans to hire four new police officers. Davis said the new officers are needed to maintain South Salt Lake's traditional police response time of less than five minutes to complaints and increase the presence of officers on patrol.

- A 5 percent across-the-board salary increase to city employees. Department heads may have options other than the 5 percent flat rate, but that remains under negotiation.

- Road construction will also receive funds, said City Recorder Eldon Farnsworth.

One resident complained about the increase in sewer rates, but other comments were generally supportive. One man, a resident since 1951, said, "This is a small and reasonable price to pay. You have my blessing."

In making the franchise tax proposal, Davis noted that South Salt Lake, with its large business base, has not had a property tax increase since the administration of President Truman and has had at least one decrease since then.

And, he said, the city's franchise tax remains lower than Salt Lake City's rate by 2 percent.

South Salt Lake's general fund expenditures will total roughly $800,000 more than last year. That's nearly a 20 percent increase in the general fund. (South Salt Lake also has special funds for water, sewer and housing.)

However, certain state funds for road construction projects were not used much last year, but will be used this year. That is reflected in the increased budget, but does not represent a tax increase to residents.