Santa Clara Council gives initial approval to new budget with bulk of spending for fire department

File photo outside Santa Clara Town Hall, Santa Clara, Utah, May 11, 2022 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

SANTA CLARA — Without comment by the City Council or any residents in a public hearing Wednesday night, Santa Clara approved a tentative 2023-24 budget that is balanced between revenues and expenditures.

File photo of Santa Clara City Manager Brock Jacobsen speaking before the Ivins City Council, Ivins, Utah, June 2, 2022 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

The tentative budget has $9,189,857 in revenues and $9,189,857 in spending, with the biggest expenditures coming from the combined Santa Clara-Ivins Fire and Rescue department. The budget overall is a 2% increase from 2022-23.

“We’ll work to continue to balance the budget through the final approval in June,” City Manager Brock Jacobsen told the council, which unanimously approved the tentative budget 5-0 after no comments were received during a public comment session. 

The fire department, which is mostly funded by Santa Clara just as the police side is mostly overseen by Ivins, accounts for $2,862,937, or 31.2%, of the city’s expenditures. Of that, more than half – or $1,512,209 – come from salaries for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other staff. 

Part of that is balanced from $1,603,245 contributed by Ivins, while Santa Clara is slated to contribute $1,444,303 back to Ivins for the combined police force. 

Expenditures have risen with the move of the fire service from a mostly volunteer to a full-time force, which Fire Chief Andrew Parker said has been designed to create better response time and services to both cities. 

At least two council members in Ivins have criticized the move, saying part-time firefighters were sufficient. No such criticism has come from any council members in Santa Clara and Parker has said such a change has been inevitable with the growth of both cities.

Beyond the fire department,  a backhoe is the other major capital purchase for Santa Clara, Jacobsen said. There is also a $1.25 million increase in power purchase costs.

Figures show Santa Clara’s tentative general fund budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year | Image courtesy City of Santa Clara, St. George News | Click to enlarge

The calm of the budget discussion may come before a storm Thursday night in the same chamber at Santa Clara Town Hall for the city’s Planning Commission.

The commission will discuss during its 5:30 p.m. meeting a rezoning for denser housing on behalf of the Pioneer Pointe housing project, which has drawn criticism from a group of residents and was tabled in April by a City Council split between those who felt the request had too many homes and other members saying it would provide needed housing in the city. 

The council had asked the developer to reduce the number of homes in the development on 400 East/Patricia Drive and Pioneer Parkway from 144 units, or 7.96 units per acre, including 75 multi-family townhomes and 69 single-family homes. At least one council member said they wanted to see the number of units per acre reduced to five like the surrounding communities.

The Pioneer Pointe developer’s new proposal is for 133 units, or 7.35 units per acre. The number of townhomes is reduced to 51 with 82 single-family lots.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2023, all rights reserved.

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