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In government, we use fund accounting (not to be confused with fun accounting). Different revenue sources can only be used to pay for specific expenses. These differing revenues and expenses are tracked in separate funds (accounting books).
The different budget funds are shown in the following graphic (click to enlarge):
Property tax is calculated to be revenue neutral, generally meaning that when property values increase, the property tax rates decrease. Or, when property values decrease, the property tax rate increases. So, even if your property value increases, that doesn’t mean the city will get more revenue. This is why the Certified Tax Rate (CTR) changes each year.
Also, only a small percentage of the overall property tax comes to Bluffdale City. Other entities like Jordan School District and Salt Lake County, also levy taxes on your property. They can choose to change their CTR to increase the amount of revenue they receive. They also have Truth in Taxation notification process, just like the City does.
The amount of increase the City is proposing will increase the property tax revenue overall around $570,000.
The Capital Projects Fund primarily is comprised of state and county grants, state legislative allocations, federal ARPA funds, and proceeds from our UDOT PRB transaction. These are restricted funds.
The FY2023 budgeted transfer is Federal ARPA funds that are restricted in their use. The Council has directed that the money be spent on one-time major equipment costs in the Fire and Police departments.
The 5% increase in salaries increases the General Fund costs by $167,858. Increasing salaries by 2% increases the General Fund costs by $67,642. Our model is not designed to calculate raises based on a specific salary level.
100% of the proposed tax increase is restricted to be used in the Fire and Police Protection Fund. It cannot be used for any other City purpose. It will be used to fund increases in salaries in the fire and police departments and to hire full-time, frontline fire fighters so that there will be 2 full-time, frontline fire fighters in the stations on each of of the 3 shifts -- A,B & C.
The City Council will re-evalutate any future needs each year.
There are certain things -- like car registrations -- that are not taxed but rather pay a fee in lieu of a tax. Businesses that hold personal property pay taxes on that personal property.
An increase will not occur in 2024 and has been deleted.
We cannot transfer money from the Fire and Police Protection Fund back to the General Fund. We are transferring money from the General Fund to the Fire and Police Protection Fund.
Without the tax increase we would reduce our police services and not hire full-time, frontline fire fighters nor give any raises to fire department personnel.
Under the City Council's direction, our fiscal policy is to pay recurring operating expsenses with recurring revenue sources. This is one-time money.
Capital projects are only paid from the restricted Capital Projects Fund. The Capital Projects Fund cannot be used to pay for operating costs.
The City Council directed a 5% salary increase across the board to improve the City's ability to retain and hire needed employees in all departments.
Last year our residents asked for a transparent way to track the costs of our Fire and Police Services. They want to be able to verify that a proposed property tax increase would be used to pay for improvements in our Fire and Police Services. The accounting in the Fire and Police Protection Fund clearly and transparently shows the sources of the revenue and where the money is being spent. No money can be transferred out of this fund to pay for any other City needs.
The council agrees with our firefighting professionals that 2 full-time, frontline firefighter positions this year is the appropriate starting point.
Under the City Council’s direction, our fiscal policy is to pay recurring operating expenses with recurring revenue sources. The surpluses are one-time money. The events that create surpluses vary and are not a reliable base for paying for major recurring costs. The public safety surpluses primarily represent daily positions that were not filled. It is expected that changing two of those positions to full-time in FY2024 will reduce the unfilled positions and, thereby, reduce or eliminate the surplus in the fire department.
Even with 100% of property taxes going to the new fund, those taxes pay for less than half the cost. We will supplement the new fund with over $5 million from the General Fund. With no property taxes in the general fund, it will rely on less stable revenue sources to make up the difference.
Salt Lake County offers a tax relief program for those who qualify. You must apply by September 1, 2023. They also have other assistance programs, like rental relief, available. Learn more about the programs and see if you qualify at slco.to/TaxRelief or slco.to/AssistancePrograms.