Brigham City mayor proposes utility, employee merit increases

May 1 2012 - 8:43pm

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Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife
Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife

BRIGHAM CITY -- Residents here will pay more for utilities if the city council approves the mayor's proposed budget for 2012-13.

Mayor Dennis Fife's recently presented $11.9 million budget also recommends a 2 percent merit increase for city employees.

The proposal's only increase for residents would be in the city's energy tax, which would more than double, rising from 2.25 percent to 5 percent. The increase would appear on gas and electric bills.

A final public hearing on the budget will be June 7.

Tough economic times and rising health insurance and energy costs have put the city in a bind, Fife told the council.

"Our expenses exceeded our revenues, even before our capital wish list," he said.

The city-owned electric system was among those hardest hit. Rocky Mountain Power, which provides 75 percent of the utility's electricity, is seeking a 10 percent rate increase, Fife said.

If the budget is approved without changes, the city tax on utilities will more than double to 5 percent. Fife noted the current tax of 2.25 percent is well below most other cities. Ogden, for instance, has a 6 percent utility tax.

Brigham City has already gone through a yearlong slimming program that included the elimination of the assistant public works director position and cuts to employees' hours.

But costs keep rising, Fife said. The cost for retired city employees has gone up 60 percent since 2008, and health insurance costs have increased by 47 percent in the same period.

At the same time, the city has seen reductions in important revenue streams, such as sales tax and the ambulance service, whose revenue dropped by $200,000.

Fife said the 2 percent merit pay increase for employees is overdue.

"We have great employees, but we've fallen behind in our compensation," he said, adding that Brigham City pays its employees about 93 percent of what equivalent cities pay.

The mayor's budget includes some nuggets that residents can look forward to. A total of $260,000 has been allocated for initial engineering and design costs for the busy intersection at 1100 South and 1100 West.

Fife said he anticipates the city will share costs of an upgraded intersection with Perry city, though no formal agreement has been made.

The Brigham City Senior Center also will be upgraded with a new HVAC system, seismic strengthening and a new parking lot.

In the months ahead, the city will look at restructuring electrical rates, Fife said. Right now, the city charges a flat rate per kilowatt.

Fife said he'd like the city to reflect what other cities do, which is charge a winter and summer rate in addition to the flat rate.

Fife said Brigham City is "in good financial shape, but we need to find ways to continue to provide service. We need to be prudent and effective in what we do."

 2012-13 proposed budget

Revenues

* Property taxes: 5.9 percent

* Sales taxes: 21.35 percent

* Franchise taxes: 8.87 percent

* Licenses and permits: 2.85 percent

* Intergovernmental: 6.7 percent

* Charges for services: 16.09 percent

* Interest income: 0.91 percent

* Miscellaneous: 1.47 percent

* Transfers in: 34.16 percent

* Appropriated fund balance: 1.65 percent

Expenditures

* Administration: 23.47 percent

* Police: 26.27 percent

* Emergency services: 9.53 percent

* Public Works: 16.33 percent

* Recreation: 13.76 percent

* Senior citizens: 7.85 percent

* Transfers out: 2.79 percent

Source: Brigham City

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