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The City Journals

New Murray city budget commits to old infrastructure

Aug 01, 2019 09:38AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

A mother duck waits impatiently for Murray City Water employees to help her 10 babies out of a storm drain. (Photo courtesy of Murray City Public Works)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Roads, theater, and cemetery were just some of the improvement items the Murray City Council approved in Murray’s new city budget for fiscal year 2020. This budget marked the first time new Finance and Administration Director Brenda Moore made a budget presentation before the council; it received unanimous approval at the June 18 City Council meeting. 

Residents living on the east side of Murray between Vine Street and 5600 South will need to get used to road construction – another project is headed their way. The city received a one-time funding award of $1 million from the Utah State Legislature during the 2019 legislative session for a transportation project identified as 5600 South, from State Street to Van Winkle Expressway. 

The Utah Department of Transportation has notified Murray they would like to begin the project as soon as possible. The funding provided will be used for asphalt overlay of 5600 South from State Street to 900 East. Also included are pedestrian access improvements, curb, gutter and sidewalk repair and signal upgrades at Fashion Boulevard and Vine Street. 

Salt Lake County awarded Murray $3,636,500 to renovate the Murray Theatre. The city will receive the money in two lump sums, one in 2019 and one in 2020. The cost estimate to restore the theater is about $7,300,000, so the city needs to come up with matching funds for this grant. Parks and Recreation Director Kim Sorensen stated, “The city has been asking the county for funds for a number of years. This project has a lot of interest, not only from Murray but from both the county and the state.”

While the new city water fees took many residents by surprise, probably no one more than Murray City itself. After Murray City Water installed meters on previously unmetered sprinkling systems in the Murray Cemetery, the new metering system, along with the adoption of tiered water billing and a price increase, caused a substantial increase in the Murray City Cemetery water bill – an additional $50,000. Murray City Parks water costs also increased by $60,000.

According to Moore, the city budget needed to transfer funds from its Enterprise Fund to its General Fund. “The fund transfer takes a percentage of the Enterprise Fund revenue and brings it into the General Fund. It’s a return on investment because the city has its own power, water, sewer and solid waste funds,” Moore said.

The City Council approved an increase in Murray resident’s solid waste fees over the next two years. The cost of recycling has gone up over 40% and continues to climb. The fees that are currently being charged for solid waste removal are inadequate to cover the city’s cost of collection and disposal of solid waste.

Murray residents will see their base garbage and recycling service fee increase from $14.50 to $19.50 per month. This will make Murray’s solid waste fees the second highest in the Salt Lake Valley. Other municipalities will likely follow suit since they also take their waste to the Trans-Jordan Landfill, which has tripled its rates. 

Murray residents will also see a property tax increase – not from the city but from Murray School District. The Murray City Board of Education approved a nearly $7,000 raise for all licensed teachers, raising the level of pay to $50,000 a year. A property tax increase will be required to help fund the pay raises. The increase will be, approximately, $93 a year on a $250,000 home. (The Murray Journal incorrectly stated last month that Granite School District will require a tax increase to cover teacher raises. Granite School District will not be raising taxes).

The Murray School District’s truth-in-taxation meeting will be held 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 at the Murray City School District Board of Education offices at 5102 S. Commerce Dr.