Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Budget 2011

American Fork's fiscal year begins on July 1 and the city council will soon vote on the budget. The public hearing took place last Tuesday. The vote will take place next Tuesday, June 15, at 7 pm in City Hall.

Presenting the budget to the public, Mayor Hadfield characterized it as "a bare bones budget" riddled with drastic cuts. The economy continues poor, with sales tax down ten percent over last year (American Fork is currently down $750,000 in receipts) and costs, especially medical premiums, still climbing. Sensitive to the economy and the needs of all who struggle with it, the City has made a concerted effort not to raise property taxes. This has been accomplished by using reserves, making cuts in operations, and putting off capital expenses.

The total $41 million budget is almost $5 million lower than last year's.

The city's residents, who don their taxpayer hats in June for the the budget vote and again in November when the taxes come due, will applaud this effort. But we council members will bear the brunt of their complaints during the rest of the year, when the residents trade their taxpayer hats for their consumer hats.
  • Road maintenance will continue to be underfunded.
  • Library collections will continue to lag below the basic level.
  • Parks maintenance will suffer as maintenance funds have been slashed and properties to maintain have been increased. (The City has new trails and will soon begin to maintain two new freeway interchanges.)
  • Sidewalks will continue in poor condition, in many places forcing pedestrians into the streets.
  • The Steel Days celebration has been scaled down.
  • The purchase of new cemetery land will be postponed indefinitely.
  • Police wages in particular remain low and employees city-wide will see no cost of living increase.
Please give us your patience with these cuts as we make this effort to keep your property taxes low.

There are, however, a few bright spots in the budget. A fire truck lease was paid off this year, and the funds which supported that payment will be diverted to the purchase of two new ambulances. The library's operating hours will be restored. And, through the strategic use of reserves, the RDA bond for public infrastructure at the Meadows year was retired a year early this year, freeing up future sales tax revenue for the general fund.

Gentle readers, please ask yourselves what you can do to improve the City's financial condition, and then listen to the answer Council Member Dale Gunther gave at council meeting: "If you would recognize that when you buy in American Fork, especially the big ticket items, that increases the sales tax revenue in American Fork and that's a big help to our budget."

In other words, buy local.

For more information on the budget, follow this link to read about Mayor Hadfield's interview with the Daily Herald.


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