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Sandy adopts $30.5 million budget

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Sandy apartment complex owners can expect a first-time, per-unit fee tagged to their annual operating costs this year.

The City Council adopted its $30.5 million budget Tuesday, including increases in business license fees and a monthly $3 storm drain fee for every homeowner.Although the final 1998-99 budget numbers are still being tinkered with, apartment complex owners will likely be charged between $12 to $15 for each unit. The license increase also calls for a slight "per-employee" increase for Sandy businesses.

The biggest fee hike, however, will be felt by business owners whose establishments are identified as "disproportionate service users." Emergency dispatch records show Sandy businesses such as convenience stores, bowling alleys, rest homes and motels get more police attention than others.

While those businesses probably won't be pleased with the fee change, others -including the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce - have called the license increase a fair proposal.

Sandy leaders have emphasized the fee hike is a conservative step to catch up with inflation. By law, the city could increase its annual business license revenue of $340,000 to about $2.2 million. Instead, the approved increase, barring any amendments, will raise about $150,000 in new revenue.

Councilwoman Crickett Raulston asked for a minor adjustment in the city budget Tuesday, saying additional dollars should be shifted to the public safety fund to hire three new officers to help wage Sandy's war against drugs.

The officers would be hired through a federal grant that would pay half of their salaries and training costs. The city would have to match the grant for the next three years, then assume full fiscal responsibility of the officers.

"Crickett has really made an emotional call for public safety," said city spokesman Rick Davis.

The trio of new officers would be assigned to the city's narcotics unit.