In this 2013 file photo, a St. George Police officer watches a roadblock near the finish line of the 37th St. George Marathon, St. George, Utah, October 5, 2013 | Photo by Alexa Verdugo Morgan, St. George News
ST. GEORGE- With a proposed budget of over $500 million, capital projects and public safety are among the City of St. George’s top funding priorities for the upcoming 2023 fiscal year.
“The development of this year’s budget has focused on meeting critical needs for public safety, improving infrastructure and facilities, and continuing to provide the high quality services expected by our community. “Wrote St. George City Manager Adam Lenhard in the budget’s introductory summary. “Several significant investments in support of these areas are included in this year’s budget.”
The proposed budget, which was passed by St. George City Council earlier this month for councilor and public consideration, is expected to be $502.6 million. This is an increase of $78 million, or 18.6% over last year’s budget.
In addition to increased capital projects and investments in public safety, part of the budget increase is intended to help offset rising costs caused by inflation. Inflation in the Mountain West region of the United States is estimated at over 10%, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Capital Project Highlights
Capital projects – which are primarily funded by impact fees levied on new developments – account for approximately $169.7 million, or 33.8%, of the overall budget. Projects funded for the year are either new or ongoing and carried over from year to year until completion.
“It’s been a very difficult year for the city to make city-wide improvements,” Lenhard said of the proposed budget Thursday.
There are several major and minor capital projects the city will fund over the next year, including the continuation of road and park projects, work at the St. George Regional Airport, construction and completion of new fire stations, a new reservoir and water infrastructure. improvements and more.
Road projects to be funded over the coming year included the eastward extension of 1450 South to Dixie Dixie via Crosby Way (which includes a new bridge over the Virgin River) for $9.7 million , the continuation of work on the 3000 East corridor from 1580 South to Seegmiller Way for $13.1 million, $2.1 million for six new traffic signals and $3.8 million for general road maintenance , among a plethora of other public works projects.
St. George Regional Airport will also have $16 million in municipal and federal funds applied to the Terminal Apron Expansion and Reconstruction Project and the Taxiway and Apron Project. from the south connector.
Recreation and parks projects outlined in Budget 2023 include $3.8 million for the first phase of Curly Hollow Regional Park in the Tonaquint area, $2.8 million for Fossil Falls Community Park , $3 million for the expansion of the pickleball court complex in Little Valley, $3 million to replace the turf at three soccer fields in Little Valley with artificial turf for water conservation purposes, and $1.3 million for the replacement of the clubhouse at St. George Golf Course.
Water projects of note include the proposed Graveyard Wash reservoir for the city’s secondary irrigation system for $6.2 million. New water storage tank projects are also budgeted. The multi-year expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant will also see $7.39 million added to this ongoing project.
“We continue to invest in water and water conservation,” Lenhard said.
Other noteworthy projects include a new City Hall and associated parking structure in the downtown area for $36 million. That project was delayed due to complications in finding and securing a desirable location, Lenhard wrote in the budget summary, but added that it appears the city is in the final stages of securing the new location.
Plans are also underway to renovate City Hall and Police Headquarters on 200 East.
Public Safety Highlights
“This year, the focus is really on public safety,” Lenhard said. “There’s a lot going on.”
The facets of public safety – which include police, fire and dispatch services – funded this year are part of an overall five-year plan focused on growing and supporting these areas to keep pace with the growth of the city. While general details of the plan have yet to be made public, the budget notes that city officials may consider a property tax increase to help fund future public safety needs. However, no property tax increase is proposed in the 2023 budget.
City officials plan to release additional details about the five-year plan soon.
As for public safety projects to be funded under the pending budget of 2023, they include the hiring of 26 new public safety personnel – police, firefighters and civilian staff – and the purchase of an associated vehicle for an amount of estimated at $5.2 million.
Related vehicles include a new ladder truck and pump truck for the fire department and 31 vehicles for the police department. Twenty of these vehicles will be replacements while the other 11 will be new additions.
Funding is also recommended for a new fire station in the Desert Canyons part of town for $6 million. The replacement of Fire Station 1, the city’s central fire station at 1000 East, is also funded in Budget 2023 at nearly $3 million. The new location of Station 1 will be at the corner of 400 East and 100 South.
The general fund, which is largely used to fund city services such as public safety, parks and recreation, land use planning and municipal administration, is expected to be about $102 million, an increase $12 million over the current year’s budget. Much of the general fund traditionally goes to the city’s public safety departments, which amounts to 39% in this case.
“The general fund is where we pay for most of these government services that are familiar to our residents,” Lenhard said.
A major contributor to the revenue found in the general fund comes from the sales and property taxes the city collects.
While a sales tax growth projection has been the norm in recent years, worries about a potential recession next year have led budget officials to predict a possible 4.5% cut in sales taxes. . Conversely, property tax collection is expected to increase by 5% based on continued growth trends.
Together, property tax and sales tax represent 53% of the general fund, at a projected amount of $54 million.
Other revenue sources that make up the general fund include municipal licenses and permits, fines and forfeitures, intergovernmental funds (federal and state grants, road taxes, etc.), service fees, and transfers from other funds municipal.
Other funds that make up the proposed 2023 budget cover the city’s corporate funds, sometimes referred to as equity. These funds are dedicated to municipal services that can be considered professionally run, such as water and electricity services. These funds represent 40% of the proposed budget.
Other municipal funds include special revenues, debt services and internal services.
Planned taking into account economic uncertainty
“We recognize the uncertainties in the economy right now,” Lenhard said, and noted the same in the proposed budget summary.
In addition to inflation and concerns about a potential recession, there are also ongoing supply chain issues and material shortages to manage, as well as any impact that Russia’s war with Ukraine may continue. to have in international markets.
“We’ll be very observant,” Lenhard said.
The move on the new City Hall and accompanying parking structure are among the projects city officials are holding back for now despite their funding as they assess when is the right time to move forward. They don’t want to start a project, but block it due to a downturn in economic conditions, the city manager said.
“Timing is going to be a critical issue this year for us,” he said. “We need to make sure we have the right conditions to deliver these projects on time and on budget,”
Because fiscal year 2023 begins July 1, Utah law requires municipalities to pass their budgets on or before June 30, but also be subject to a public hearing before passing.
The City of St. George will hold two public hearings for the proposed budget at City Council meetings on June 2 and June 16 at 5 p.m. The budget is usually adopted by the city council after the second public hearing.
An online copy of the proposed budget is available at City of St. George website.
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