The budget calls for the city to draw $1.5 million from its fund balance reserve to balance the general fund, which is budgeted at $14.5 million for the year ahead. The city’s revenues are projected to decrease by 2.6 percent over last year’s budget, while expenditures will rise 8 percent compared to last year.
The entire budget is up 1.7 percent from last year’s $44 million budget.
“With income flat, the budget shows that we will essentially remain the same as last year on expenditures in the general fund with one exception,” said Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy. “We will give city employees a 3 percent cost-of-living raise as well as cover merit pay increases and pick up a 3 percent increase in benefits for employees.”
The mayor and city council reiterated a vow made at an earlier meeting to forgo their own pay raises in light of tough economic times.
The city will pick up the cost of operating the Communities that Care program, which previously was funded by a five-year grant from the University of Washington. The total expense for Communities that Care will be $176,318.
The general fund’s major sources of income — property and sales taxes — account for 46 percent of general fund revenue, and will remain essentially the same this year as last year.
However, the city is losing revenue on other, smaller fronts. For example, licenses and permits have dropped, led by a major decline in building permits. In 2007, licenses and permits generated $444,000. In 2008, they brought in only $205,000.
Still, Dunlavy anticipates revenues will rise over the next few years through sales and property taxes, as some of the city’s business recruitment initiatives begin to pay off.
Although the city will be keeping a tight hold on the general fund, other funds have been budgeted to allow for improvements.
About $2 million is included in the budget for road improvements; $950,000 will be spent on storm water improvements; a new police station and a fire station will be built with public safety impact fees; and the parks and recreation tax will generate $625,000 with $100,000 designated for the Tooele Arts Council and the balance for other parks and recreation projects.
“It is significant to note that with no tax or fee increases, the City of Tooele will still provide for the safety of its citizens and the improvement of public infrastructure,” said councilman Scott Wardle.