To the chagrin of the mayor and some council members, the City Council added a few tax increases to the budget it has approved.
The new, $10.4 million budget includes a $4.50-a-month tax increase for residential sewer users, to offset an increase in amounts charged by the Timpanogos Special Service District to install new sewer equipment.The council also approved a property-tax increase of about $10 per year on a $100,000 home to finance a new fitness center, which voters approved a bond to build.
Mayor Jess Green said that although he first presented a $10.3 million balanced budget,federal government requirements forced the tax hikes.
"This tax increase to account for another sewage digester was required by the EPA to avoid some whopping fines," Green said. "It's something no one anticipated, everyone is angry about, and no subsidies from collection fees can pay for."
But in the wake of the passage of the $98 million Alpine School District bond in May, council member Kent Walker said further tax increases will significantly hurt some American Fork citizens.
"Those on fixed incomes or tight budgets were slam-dunked again," Walker said. "I'm not sure how the elderly in this city are going to make it with some of these increases."
Perhaps the most controversial portion of the meeting came when the council, by a 4-1 vote, approved a measure to provide free child care for city employees at the fitness center. Funding for the child care was a part of the property-tax increase.
"It's just another perk for city employees," Walker said. "It takes away from private industry, and isn't fair for the rest of the citizens of American Fork."
Green said he felt too many questions were left unanswered about the issue. He said he is worried about placing children in a fitness club close to heavy traffic and busy parking lots.
"I don't know where the council was coming from on that issue," he said. "Employees would come in on a first-come, first-served basis and the possibility of leaving some employees without services that others would have isn't fair for everyone."
The council also voted for a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for all part- and full-time city employees to take effect July 1.