Honorable Members of the City Council:
After extensive consultation with our city manager, administrative services director and other executive staff, and on behalf of the residents of Riverton City, I am pleased to submit to you the Mayor’s Budget for fiscal year 2021 for your consideration. It is my attempt to propose what I believe to be a conservative budget, with no fee increases to our residents, that accounts for my administrative priorities, while simultaneously emphasizing the completion of the balance of the governing body’s strategic priorities.
Significant progress has been made towards the completion of our strategic priorities, with almost 80% of the 2018-2022 initiatives now being accomplished. In recent months our city has not been immune to the global economic impacts of the COVID-19 health pandemic. However, thanks to smart planning during previous years we have been able to mitigate many of those impacts, keep fees low for our residents, and still maintain healthy fund balances for any other unforeseen circumstances. This year’s Mayor’s Budget attempts to maintain the prudent planning of previous years, strategically allocating our precious resources to deliver the best-in-class services our residents rely on while successfully completing the goals set forth by the governing body in our strategic plan.
Here are a few highlights from the budget:
- Total budgeted expenditures are $51.7 million, excluding transfers and addition to fund balance. Almost the entire increase from last year’s budget of $44.8 million is a result of one-time capital projects for water and stormwater that are driven by state and federal directives.
- This Mayor’s budget is the result of an in-depth analysis of the needs of each department, working with each department to gain a sufficient understanding of the needs vs the wants, and cutting approximately $5.1 million of requested expenditures.
- The General Fund is where the bulk of employee and operational costs are kept. Other funds may vary considerably from one year to the next due to capital projects; however, the change in General Fund expenditures year over year is usually a sign of the fiscal discipline of a city. Excluding transfers, this year’s general fund expenditures are proposed at $10.2 million, which is essentially flat from last year’s budgeted general fund expenditures. Looking back five years, General Fund expenditures have only increased 7.3% from the budgeted $9.5 million in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. That is only an average annual increase of approximately 1.5%. A remarkable figure that is even far below the average inflation rate, and a testament to the careful stewardship exhibited by our elected officials and employees for public funds.
- There are no new fee increases included in this budget. Over the last six years, Riverton residents have seen no net rate increase in fees and I am proud to continue that trend in this year’s budget.
- Due to the COVID-19 health pandemic, the Salt Lake County Health Department responded by mandating business closures. These orders have significantly impacted our business community as well as the livelihood of all the families employed by local businesses. Although total sales tax projections are estimated to close out the 2019-2020 fiscal year at approximately $7.9 million, or a 41% increase since 2015, we do expect to see a decline to sales tax revenues in the 2020-2021 fiscal year due to the pandemic. After much analysis and collaboration with our city manager and administrative services director, our best estimate is that we will see a 5% decline in sales tax revenue. Our city is in a much better position given the makeup of our retail sales tax base than many other cities which are projecting even steeper declines. Over the next six months we will continue to monitor trends and respond accordingly.
- In order to support the business community, I have created the Riverton Economic Recovery Initiative. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to get the local economy back on its positive trajectory by helping local businesses address challenges stemming from COVID-19 closures mandated by Salt Lake County. The first plan point includes: Business License Fee Elimination Extension. In keeping with previous years, the proposed budget will extend $0 business licensing fees through FY21.
- Having a strong, diverse staff is crucial to keeping a city functioning properly and is aligned with our strategic priorities. In total, our expenses associated with wages and benefits are $17.3 million. This figure includes a budgeted proposal to increase total compensation this fiscal year by 4%. This amount is to be used at the discretion of the city manager, in consultation with executive staff, to propose unique pay-for-performance or other merit increases. Initially, there were requests for 8 additional full-time employees from various departments, which was then narrowed down to 1 additional full-time employee in this budget. We need to be very conscientious about adding to staff during this time of economic uncertainty. Other cities have been faced with reducing employees, and many have even frozen any wage increases. Our city’s total full-time employee count is 167, which equates to 3.62 FTE’s per 1000 in population. Our resourcefulness and dedication of our employees allows us to do more with less in comparison to surrounding cities, and a key reason why I’m proposing an increase to compensation when many other cities may not.
- In keeping with the city’s strategic priority of having a well-connected community with properly maintained utilities and infrastructure, this budget includes $1.9 million in road maintenance funding and $2.1 million in new road construction funding from grants received from the state and county. The largest projected expense will be $1 million which is our contribution to UDOT for the 12600 South, Bangerter Highway interchange project. We have also carried over a budgeted item from last year of $450 thousand to invest in connecting city assets with a municipally owned broadband solution that could be leveraged in the future to expand broadband choice for our residents. Given the increased use and dependence on high speed connectivity in light of the global pandemic, advancements in technology and work-from-home options, I view this initiative as essential and highly strategic.
- There is approximately $1.3 million committed this year towards capital projects. To include roughly $500 thousand in playground and park upgrades, and $465 thousand to our civic and community center. Over the last year you may have noticed a much needed update to our city hall. We have made renovations to beautify and enhance the front of city hall which have included new features such as a water fountain, flag poles and a digital sign. Looking inside you will find a face lift to our hallways and city council chambers. To continue our renovation efforts, this year’s budget includes $365 thousand in order to replace our HVAC systems, power generation plans and additional flooring needs. I have also included $100 thousand to be used for renovations to our community center auditorium, which we anticipate will be a small matching portion of the more than $1 million that will ultimately be contributed by the Riverton Arts Council for this project. In the end, there will be a beautiful new auditorium along with a glass atrium and lobby that will connect city hall and the community center that can be enjoyed by all of our residents.
- Last year we hired a part-time Emergency Manager to lead our efforts to maintain and improve our disaster relief planning efforts. With COVID-19 and recent earthquakes in the surrounding areas, we are seeing immediate benefits from the creation of this position. To further our planning efforts this year’s budget includes additional funds for increased capacity to our fuel tanks, satellite phones and technology to increase our mobile hot spot functionality.
The priorities outlined in our strategic plan have guided the development of this budget. More than ever before I believe our city is well situated to weather the storms of any unforeseen challenges, and well positioned to continue delivering the essential services our residents rely upon. I’m grateful for the dedicated work of our city council. Their vision and dedication to the city have greatly aided in our city’s progress over these last few years. The commitment and significant contributions of our city employees should also be recognized. Numerous hours went into the preparation of this budget. I’m grateful for their unrelenting support and dedication to serving our great residents.
I look forward to and encourage you to solicit feedback from our residents and involve them in the budget process as much as possible. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions or comments.