Despite some opposition from a citizen who criticized a 67 percent increase in City Council members' salaries, the council adopted a $23 million budget Wednesday night.
The budget, which is $2.4 million more than last year's is "responsive to the needs of the citizens yet still holds the line on taxes," City Manager Tom Hardy told the mayor and council Wednesday night during a public hearing on the city's finances.For the ninth time in 10 years, Bountiful residents will not experience a property tax increase. But they will be paying 14 percent more for electricity, the first such increase since 1987.
Even with this latest increase, which will raise the rate from 4.9 cents per kilowatt-hour to 5.6 cents, the rate is still 25 percent lower than that charged by Utah Power & Light, Hardy said.
Although the council didn't approve the new rate until this week, it has been in effect since June 1.
Officials explained that Bountiful's power department needs the revenue now in anticipation of a steep hike in energy prices charged the city by the Western Area Power Administration. Those increases are expected to take effect Oct. 15.
Some residents at the budget hearing criticized the city for increasing the power rates before Bounfiful's costs to purchase the power have actually increased.
Cliff Michaelis, power department manager, said he is confident the WAPA rates will increase by at least 25 percent and could possibly increase 46 percent.
However, Michaelis promised that if the increased power costs do not materialize, he'll recommend a rebate to customers and a rate reduction.
Councilwoman Renee Coon also expressed concern about increasing rates before costs are incurred, but she did not propose any amendments and voted for the budget package as proposed.
Resident John O'Hara criticized the council for accepting a 67 percent raise in pay. The council members make $300 per month, and that will increase to $500 per month.
"I'd like to suggest this is not the time (for the increase)." O'Hara said. "The kind of people we need on that side of the bench are those that would to the job for nothing."
Mayor Bob Linnell, who makes $1,000 per month, says he proposed the council pay increase to bring the salary in line with the average of similar communities in Utah.
"I think you're getting some pretty good talent for a pretty cheap price," Linnell said.
In addition to suggesting the city wait for the power cost increase before raising rates, resident David Piggett chided the city for putting two much money into reserve funds because of the temptation to spend it without much thought.
Referring to Hardy, Piggett said, "Any time he needs the money for something, he can dig it out of the reserves."
But Hardy defended the reserve accounts, which amount to about $16 million, saying the "pay-as-you-go" philosophy is cheaper than bonding. He also said it was the reserve funds that enabled the city to dig out of the 1983 floods as quickly as it did.
What the budget provides
Highlights of Bountiful City's fiscal 1991 budget:
- 4 percent raise for all city employees.
- 67 percent pay increase - from $300 per month to $500 - for City Council members.
- $2.6 million for new maintenance building.
- $2.2 million for completion of Pineview hydroelectric project.
- $1 million for upgrading electric substations.
- $385,000 for four major street improvements.
- $250,000 for new fire department ladder truck.
- No new hirings. In fact, fewer people are employed by the city now (165) than in 1980 (210).