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Davis budget free of property tax hike

FARMINGTON — Davis County commissioners have approved a tentative $70 million budget for 2005 that, for the second year in a row, is free of a property tax increase.

The new budget contains money to repair the battered seven-mile Antelope Island causeway, a project that probably won't be finished until the end of the heavy tourist season next fall.

The tentative budget gives county employees a 2 percent cost-of-living increase, up from 1 percent in this year's budget, said Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.

Capital expenditures, mostly in information technology, were reduced in the 2005 budget by $1.2 million. Most of the savings will be from cuts in computer hardware and software in the sheriff's office and other areas of county government, he said.

The proposed $24.8 million general obligation bond for expansion of the Davis County Jail is not part of the budget, Rawlings said. If the bond proposal passes Tuesday, "we'll go back and add it to the budget and add in jail construction figures for 2005 as well. The average cost to taxpayers won't increase until 2006 when we'll need new money for operation and maintenance of the jail."

A public hearing on the budget will be in the historic Memorial Courthouse Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

The budget includes a separate paramedic fund. Four paramedic units will be added to the sheriff's office, two units will be added in Layton and two units will be added in south Davis County's new Metro Fire District.

Commissioners approved spending $450,000 of the county's road money that will be matched with $450,000 of state road funds, on the causeway project. With the low water level of the Great Salt Lake, the sides of the causeway have been exposed and will be easier to fix. Most of the repairs will be replacing stones lining the causeway.

The causeway was under water from the floods of 1983 until it was reopened in 1992. A couple of years ago, the state gave the causeway between Syracuse and Antelope Island State Park to the county. The county receives $2 of the $8 per vehicle park admission fee for road maintenance.