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The City Journals

Proposed budget for Holladay City is up for review

May 30, 2017 03:04PM ● By Aspen Perry

City of Holladay community snapshot. (City of Holladay)

By Aspen Perry  |  [email protected]
The month of May kicked off the 2017–18 budget discussion, which took place during regularly held city council meetings, as well as work sessions.
City Manager Gina Chamness began structuring the proposed budget based on city council priority recommendations presented in January.
“As has historically the case in Holladay, those priorities and our needs exceeded the funds that were available,” Chamness said.
Due to the discrepancy of funds vs. needs, Chamness prepared a list of potential top priorities. The first item on the list includes a 2 percent inflationary increase for city employees, in addition to market adjustments for positions that have been identified as under market rate for similar city employment positions.
As written in the budget message (available to view on the city website), Chamness felt this priority was necessary in “recognizing and valuing the contribution of city of Holladay employees.”
The second reflects $200,000 in contractual changes for police and fire services.
Many residents will not find the third priority surprising given the recent issues with storm drains throughout the city. To address these issues, Chamness proposed an additional $100,000 to the budget to invest in “proactive” maintenance, specifically in regards to the city’s storm drain system.
“(The budget) also includes another $25,000 in traffic signals and preventative maintenance, giving two examples of some investment in our infrastructure,” Chamness said, addressing the council on May 4.
Although the budget is balanced, Holladay has been starting each fiscal year with a deficit between “ongoing revenue and ongoing expenses.” Chamness stressed concern of the city not being able to continue on this path.
“While the budget is balanced overall, it is not a course we can continue past this year. We have a structural deficit between ongoing revenue and ongoing expenses. When we start this process next year, we would be in a deficit situation — which we cannot sustain in the long term,” Chamness said.
Chamness went on to stress the importance of taking time out over the next nine months to decipher a sustainable financial plan for the city.
To do so, city officials will need to focus on both the day-to-day operations as a city government and investing in capital needs, such as key infrastructure, that have been deferred.
Based on infrastructure concerns voiced during each district town hall, it would seem that many residents are well aware of the current need to update and maintain roads, storm drains and other infrastructure.
Some of the ways other cities have addressed the deficit necessary to cover such expenses is through the proposition of a new tax or fee, such as extending the existing energy tax, a storm water utility fee, a general obligation bond, or raising property tax.
Mayor Robert Dahle expressed great concern regarding the infrastructure, and in speaking with residents in attendance at the May 4 city council meeting, he noted though it may not be politically popular to suggest, he felt it the truth to state his concerns.
“I have serious concerns about the infrastructure, and will be personally pushing to put in a long-term plan to make sure we are responsibly maintaining the infrastructure we have,” Dahle said.
Another way city officials have tried to offset the cost of infrastructure is through the application of grants, an avenue that has paid off with the city’s plans to receive $2.4 million in grant money in 2017–18 to cover the cost of various road and park projects.
For residents unable to attend one of the town halls or city council meetings, Holladay city officials have a dedicated budget page on the Holladay City website where residents can view the recommended budget, as well as other documents pertinent to Holladay’s budget.
In accordance with the city’s budget message in the previous issue of the Holladay City Journal, a public hearing regarding the proposed budget will be held at Holladay City Hall on June 1 at 6 p.m. At that time, council members will take public comments into consideration before returning to vote on the adoption of the budget during the following city council meeting on June 15.