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Taylorsville budget shows big surplus - but holds the line

SHARE Taylorsville budget shows big surplus - but holds the line

At first glance, the Taylorsville spending plan approved June 3 for fiscal 1999 looks healthier than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A budget of just $12 million for a city of 60,000 people. A surplus of $2 million-plus. Another half million in a contingency fund. No tax or fee increases. A capital projects fund with about $7.5 million for infrastructure needs.Even at second glance, the fiscal blueprint still looks pretty good.

There's a 5 percent merit pay increase for the city's 13 full-time employees and solitary part-time worker. There's money for a new fire station, street lights and sidewalks for school kids.

Steady growth in sales and franchise tax revenues are forecast, and property tax projections are so conservative it would take an earthquake to prevent the city from exceeding its estimates.

Even the city's biggest new expense item - the new Justice Court with a hefty $540,000 price tag - is expected to pay for itself in its first year of operation.

With this kind of fiscal picture, how come the Taylorsville City Council was more tight-fisted than a Farm Belt banker when handling fiscal 1999 budget requests?

Principle, says Mayor Janice Auger. And future need.

"This is a good budget because we have held the line on things that tend to grow," she said. "It's extremely easy for staff, when they know you have disposable income, to find something to use it for."

So you won't find the council popping for another vehicle. The city will stick with the one it has, thank you, and there's no need to double the size of the fleet.

Taylorsville will again contract with the county and the private sector for most services, except planning and administration.

And you won't see elected officials trying to build one of those TajMa-City Halls you find in some communities. The city offices will continue being housed in a strip mall for a while longer.

Without this kind of discipline, the mayor said, "we can't afford to do the big things our citizens want like curb and gutter, road improvements, property acquisition and park development."

She noted the real challenge facing the city is to build the infrastructure that was lacking when Taylorsville incorporated less than three years ago.

"That's one of the reasons we have put more than $7 million aside in our capital projects budget," Auger said. It also explains why the city has been maintaining the maximum surplus fund balance allowed by state law.

"This is the first year we've really got our feet under us," said Councilman Keith Sorenson. "We know what we can and can't do . . . and we think this budget gives us an opportunity to do some really good things."

Key projects planned for the coming fiscal year include:

- Construction of a $1.5 million fire station that will be owned by the city and manned under a contract with Salt Lake County.

- Sidewalk construction in five areas of the city where Auger said children are walking to elementary schools on the roadsides.

- Start of the first phase of a comprehensive five-year plan to place street lights throughout the city. Each year, the city plans to fund and install 20 percent of the lighting program.

- A $4 million fund to buy for parks, open space and a future city government center.

- Road upgrades and installation of curbs and gutters.

Sorenson, who has been comparing Taylorsville's per-capita spending with other cities, said he believes the fiscal 1999 budget "really does well providing government at a low cost."



Budget: Taylorsville

General fund: $12,062,320


General fund: $10,566,921


Where it comes from:

Property tax: $2,357,000

Last year: $2,426,261

Sales tax: $6,202,000

Last year: $5,650,000

Franchise tax: $163,460

Last year: $150,000

Permits, licenses: $621,200

Last year: $264,000

Fines and forfeitures: $536,000

Last year: $0

Other revenues: $2,182,660

Last year: $1,976,660

Where it goes:

Service contracts: $6,047,830

Last year: $5,772,636

Council and mayor: $186,057

Last year: $218,643

Govt. buildings: %96,210

Last year: $96,232

Community dev.: $389,980

Last year: $432,248

Justice court: $539,548

Last year: $93,558

Tax/fee increases:

No increase in taxes or fees.