BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
KAYSVILLE — All options are back on the table after a public hearing regarding the city’s 2014 budget on Tuesday.
City councilmembers listened intently as residents took them to task for transferring money from the electric enterprise fund to use in the general fund.
Though other cities have done similar transfers and they are legal, a determined number of Kaysville residents have opposed the transfer since it was first proposed and implemented last year.
At the time, the city transferred $265,000 from the utility to the general fund, citing a need to hire three new police officers.
This year, opponents of the transfer organized a petition drive and collected more than 2,500 signatures to put a measure preventing future transfers on the November ballot.
Those addressing the council were anywhere from angry to complimentary, from insulting to civil. Some cited a need for improvements in the city’s electrical infrastructure before money is transferred, and others said raising taxes would be preferable to raising electric rates and transferring money.
Two said a 33 percent increase in property taxes would cost them less than the 9 percent increase in electricity rates.
Councilman Mark Johnson responded that electricity usage can be controlled by individual households, but tax rates cannot.
After 30 minutes of public hearing and 30 minutes of discussion, councilmembers agreed to consider the budget suggestions at greater length in a work session next Wednesday, June 12 at 6 p.m. in city hall.
Three options under consideration are first, leaving the budget as now proposed by city staff, with a $265,000 transfer from the city’s electric utility fund to the general fund; second, raising taxes to cover the city’s needs, something Mayor Steve Hiatt estimated to be around 26 percent; and third, cutting $265,000 from city budgets.
Councilman Brett Garlick suggested waiting until after the November election to decide about the transfer.
“I want to make sure we hear formally from all the citizens of Kaysville whether they agree with us or not,” said Garlick.
If there is no tax increase, a balanced budget must be adopted by June 22, according to Dean Storey, city finance director. If a tax increase is proposed, a truth-in-taxation hearing would be held in August.
Gil Miller, also a councilman, said he voted against last year’s budget because of the transfer.
“I don’t believe that it’s right to transfer funds,” he said. “I’ve stated for years Р we need a tax increase. The city should be taxed fairly and according to its needs and we have fallen short of that.”
The integrity of the power infrastructure should get first priority, said Ron Stephens, city council member, after listening to some concerns about the power outage during the windstorm in December 2011.