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Lots of ideas offered for W. Jordan budget

WEST JORDAN -- Ever wonder what would happen if you turned about five dozen residents loose with a $43.5 million municipal budget along with a mandate to analyze it and recommend changes?

City officials found out during a budget review session last week, and some of the results were fairly impressive.There were suggestions to:

Develop a five-year fire department master plan and cut costs by adopting a zero-based budgeting system similar to one employed by neighboring cities. (The fire budget subcommittee.)

Construct a city animal shelter and fund urgent needs in the police department by hiring warrant officers to serve some $1.5 million worth of unserved warrants. (The police budget subcommittee.)

Increase wages of experienced building inspectors to keep them from finding jobs elsewhere and purchase large blocks of cellular phone time instead of buying more expensive individual plans. (The public works subcommittee.)

Trim some $840,000 from the $2.35 million in new spending that has been proposed for fiscal 2000, including a suggestion to save nearly $45,000 by eliminating medical insurance and retirement benefits for City Council members. (The general government budgets subcommittee.)

And roll back city revenue projections by about $200,000 to offset anticipated sales tax and utility franchise tax shortfalls. (The revenue subcommittee.)

Not bad for two months of work by seven committees, some of which spent hundreds of hours combing through city budget documents and analyzing how the city should spend taxpayer dollars.

Each of the committees was under the direction of a council member.

Now the question is whether and which of those ideas will be incorporated into the final budget plan that must be approved by the council during June.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 1, and a final version of the municipal spending plan likely will be adopted June 15.

Council members will discuss and vote on a number of the advisory committee proposals during their June 8 meeting.

About 90 percent of the proposed fiscal 2000 spending is accounted for by the general fund budget at $23.9 million, the water and sewer fund at $17.3 million and the capital projects budget at $11.35 million.

The budget also projects a 3 percent "pay for performance" salary increase that will be given to most employees plus a 2 percent market adjustment to bring West Jordan salaries into line with those paid in comparable communities.

Council members indicated they also want to ensure West Jordan public safety officers -- who have been cross-trained in both law enforcement and fire service -- won't have to take a pay cut when police and fire become separate departments this summer.