ST. GEORGE – Earlier this month the St. George City Council approved a preliminary city budget for the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year. The more than $195 million budget anticipates the trend of moderate growth to continue and addresses community needs related to public safety and infrastructure.
With an estimated general fund of $64.9 million, which is $2 million over the current year’s budget, City officials called the amount “historic” during an April 15 City Council meeting.
The budget is based on a projected 2.5 to 3 percent population increase over the next 12 months, which follows the same growth trend over the past few years.
The 2016-17 budget projects a possible 3.4 percent increase in sales taxes and a 2.5 percent increase is property taxes. These two sources of revenue, along with franchise taxes, make up the bulk of the general fund.
“Based on current major projects and forecasts from local and state officials, next year should again see steady growth in all areas,” City Manager Gary Esplin wrote in his budget message to the City Council.
While there are no tax increases outlined in the budget, Esplin noted a possible increase in water rates could be on the horizon.
Major projects outlined in the budget include the purchase of three new fire trucks though a four-year lease-to-own program, plus more than $2 million in equipment for the new trucks. About $1.8 million is recommended for improvements and equipment for the St. George Regional Airport, and $838,862 is slated for completion of the city’s new Fleet Services building.
Esplin said in addition to purchasing new fire trucks, the city would build a fire station in the Little Valley area. The pending budget recommends $200,000 go to the design, engineering and construction management of the new facility.
Esplin also recommended other projects to the City Council for consideration. Though outlined as possible capital projects in the budget, funding has not been set aside for them. It will be left to the City Council to determine potential funding sources.
These projects include replacing the dome on the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center for up to $1.6 million, $1 million for improvements at Vernon Worthen Park, $557,000 for improvements at the Town Square and additional parking at Pioneer Park for $239,000.
“I feel good about this budget,” Esplin said. “I feel it meets the needs of the community.”
Public hearings for the 2016-17 budget have been set for June 2 and June 16.
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