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Am.F. councilwoman disapproves of how the city's budget was OK'd

AMERICAN FORK -- City Councilwoman Juel Belmont stood alone in opposing the 1999-2000 budget, the largest ever.

"I'm concerned with raising taxes," she said. While that possibility awaits a municipal bond election Nov. 2, Belmont said she would remain opposed until then. "If the voters approve it, then I will change my position," she said. If the bond election is approved, taxes would be raised, she said.The way the council drafted the budget is backward, Belmont complained. The people need to vote on the multimillion-dollar bond first -- then if approved the council could reopen the budget and change it, she said. But other council members said they were just allowing the bond election to take place.

Her main objection was the $18.5 million in planned capital improvements and equipment expenditures, which includes $17.5 million in new construction. The city is planning on replacing City Hall and razing and rebuilding the courts and police building. Belmont opposes the way the project was approved.

The total 1999-2000 fiscal year budget is $36 million in expenditures.

The City Council also closed out the 1998-99 fiscal year budget. The general fund budget, originally approved for $8.9 million, closed out at $9.2 million. The biggest increase came in the form of franchise and sales taxes when the city took in $200,000 more than anticipated. The largest expenditure, $138,000, went into the capital improvement fund, and the council transferred $82,000 to prop up the city fitness center, which was operating at a loss.

The capital improvement fund was originally adopted at $8.8 million, but the council reduced it to $6.9 million, city administrator Carl Wanlass said, largely because some work on the new library and public works building was not done this year.