Four new police officers, a budget analyst in the police department and a one percent cost of living adjustment for Provo city employees are some of the highlights of the FY 2019 budget.
On Tuesday, the Provo Municipal Council voted unanimously to accept the tentative 2019 budget of $211.7 million. They now have approximately one month to comb through it, adjust if needed and vote to accept it. The fiscal year begins July 1.
This is Mayor Michelle Kaufusi’s first budget. The mayor and her staff have sent the council a balanced budget and Kaufusi has been able to fulfill some of her campaign promises without a tax increase, according to the budget cover letter.
No decision has yet been made if the council will hold a truth in taxation hearing in August. The budget indicates there is no need for one because there are not tax increases. Historically, they have agreed to have a truth in taxation hearing. The idea has yet to be addressed.
“There are some great things included in this budget,” Kaufusi said in her cover letter to the council. “One that I am very proud of is the addition of critically needed police officers. I think we all were moved by the presentation given by our police chief, Chief Ferguson. Among other things, he highlighted his need for additional officers.”
Kaufusi added, “We’ll have a police force that can respond to our needs more quickly and more fully. In addition, morale among our police force should receive a boost.
“When some of our police officers have left us to go work somewhere else, they have said that at times they’ve been spread too thin,” Kaufusi said. “That’s not OK. I’m thrilled that we are able to deliver these much-needed police officers.”
As for the cost of living adjustment Kaufusi said, “In a meeting with Provo City employees prior to my election, I was asked about the possibility of a cost of living adjustment. I was surprised to hear that the city had not had a COLA adjustment for several years. I told them: we did it at the school district; I’ll do it here.”
When it comes to comparisons with other area cities, John Borget, director of administrative services, indicated that property taxes that go to the general fund are the lowest out of 25 cities.
However, when adding the library and recreation center taxes, Provo is just above center on the list of cities and the property taxes.
Borget said the reason for that is many cities don’t have a recreation center and in a few cases, they don’t have a city library either.
While there are no tax increases, Borget said there are utility rate increases with water, wastewater, stormwater and sanitation.
“These increases are part of a five-year plan to help with operational capital improvement concerns,” Borget said.
Borget noted these increases for capital improvement projects are reviewed every year and the public should be aware of the intended increases as the city is has been having utility fee increases for the past two years.