South Jordan City Council approves budget for fiscal year 2021-22Jun 01, 2021 11:22AM ● By Mariden Williams
By Mariden Williams | [email protected]
The South Jordan City Council adopted the city's final annual budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022 in a meeting held on May 5. This year, the city’s total appropriated operating budget is $116 million, divided between its general, special revenue, debt service, enterprise, internal service, and trust and agency funds. Each of these funds in turn has a complete budget of its own, all of which are publicly available on the city website.
As part of the final budget adoption, the City Council also moved to adopt whatever tax rate the state tax commission assigns them for the year, even though the state tax commission hasn't yet told them exactly what that tax rate will be.
"We don't have that tax rate yet, and we will not have it until probably the end of next month,” said South Jordan Chief Financial Officer Sunil Naidu. “But we feel, most of us, like the tax rate is such that it will capture the same amount of revenue that we received in the prior year. So at least that much of a revenue, plus the new growth that we will get. So that's what we built our budget based on, and we are comfortable with that."
The tentative budget—basically a late-stage draft of the budget, the last phase before adoption—was available for the general public to review, comment on, and question for more than a week prior to the May 5 public budget hearing. According to Naidu, not a single member of the public questioned or commented on the tentative budget during this weeklong period, and nobody showed up to comment at the public hearing, either. It passed unanimously.
According to South Jordan City Manager Gary Whatcott, some of the major allocations in this year's budget include the fortification of the city's employee retention program, some $10,876,000 of funds for infrastructural and maintenance projects, the creation of a splash pad at Heritage Park, and the hiring of 14 full-time employees, including two police personnel, two water maintenance workers, and seven firefighter/paramedics.
Another highlight is the over $300,000 of funding allotted for improvements to Mulligans Golf and Games, which include a new irrigation pump, overhauling the lighting in the mini golf course, changes to the baseball netting, a replacement satellite box, and seven new golf carts plus a lawn mower.
There are a few areas where South Jordan's revenues have started to dip from previous years. One of the most prominent areas is in licensing permits, which are projected to be down nearly half a million dollars from last year. This is mostly because South Jordan's financial department wants to play things safe, and not rely too heavily on revenue that they may or may not actually receive.
"You know, as we were working in the budget, we weren't sure what was going to happen—you know, COVID times and whatnot. And we still are in that uncertain time. And so we are budgeting a little lower than where we ended up in 2019-2020," Naidu said. "We are doing a lot of permits, and so that revenue may come back. As they come back, we will readjust to where it will be. But at least for now, this is just the budget where we felt comfortable that it would be a good projection, where we will definitely realize that revenue."
"Where Utah’s tax structure does not allow for inflation capture in property taxes we will be facing difficult decision as it relates to taxes and services,” City Manager Whatcott wrote in the tentative budget. “Without more commercial base property taxes the city will continue to find it harder to meet the growth related service demands. Municipal budgets are strongest when they have diversified revenue streams and when cities’ taxation system aligns with their economies."
The new budget keeps South Jordan's debt ratio pretty low, according to Whatcott, which helps the city maintain an enviable triple-A credit rating in its general fund. He doesn't want to get complacent, though.
"We must be wise and prudent in our borrowing of money; knowing however, that we will have to maintain our investment in infrastructure and to add desired public amenities as needed by our residents. We are committed to maintain fiscal policies that strengthen our core service levels and sustain our reserves into the future. That may mean that property tax will have to be evaluated over time," wrote Whatcott.