Council Oks $34.7 Million Town Budget


Payson residents will see a slight increase in property taxes to help fund a $34.7 million budget for 2004-2005.

The final budget was approved at a special meeting of the Payson Town Council Thursday evening. When adjusted for expenditures approved by the voters and grants, the total is $30.2 million -- roughly the same as last year's budget.

The proposed primary property tax levy increase -- from $0.275 to $0.286 per $100 assessed value -- will be considered by the council at its next regular meeting on Aug. 12. The increase, expected to net about $26,300 in new revenue, was triggered by a slowdown in construction, according to Chief Fiscal Officer Glenn Smith.

"(Property taxes) had been going down (in previous years) because there was sufficient change in the base due to new construction, but that has flattened," Smith said. "What it really does is allow us to pick up the new construction. That particular change is the only one allowed under the statutes without a public hearing."

Sales taxes, grants, state-shared taxes and charges for services are expected to be the major sources of revenue next year. Smith anticipates an increase in sales tax revenues up to $5.6 million.

"Sales tax revenues assume a slow economic recovery with some anticipation of business growth," he said. "The assumption is a 4.9-percent increase above fiscal year 2003-2004."

The three departments receiving the most money under the new budget are police ($3.2 million), fire ($2.1 million), and community development ($800,000). The new budget also includes raises for employees.

"Our employees are way behind market, which is the average of what other cities and towns make, so we've got plans in here to try and get us closer to market," Town Manager Fred Carpenter said.

The budget also includes money to remodel the Main Street fire station, and for the police communications upgrade approved by the voters. The police department also will gain one new officer, one new dispatcher, and a part-time records clerk.

"We're also on a seven-year plan to chip or slurry seal every road that's in standard condition so we keep them up," Carpenter said. "That's included in there."

The budget also includes money to improve communications, including a higher quality newsletter and upgraded television capabilities.

Mayor Barbara Brewer sounded an optimistic note, despite a smaller budget.

"It's going to be a very tight budget, but the important thing is to accomplish as much as we can with what we have," she said. "We'll be able to give the employees the market raises they so deserve, and also start looking for us to tuck away for the streets that we promised to do."

Carpenter also noted that actual expenditures are invariably less than the approved budget.

"The budgets are always higher than we expect to spend because state law doesn't allow us to exceed the limit," he said.

The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005.

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