By ALLISON WOOLLEY
Mayor Lewis Billings proposed a new balanced budget Tuesday allowing Provo City to benefit from the marked increase in sales tax for the first time in more than 10 years.
Billings announced a $90 million dollar budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a $4.3 million dollar cut from the current budget plan. This proposal utilizes the new sales tax revenue anticipated from the opening of the Riverwoods mall and the Provo Towne Center.
The “sales tax continues to be the strongest and most solid” of the general-fund revenue, Billings said. “It is critical to fund the operations at Provo City government.”
Public safety continues to be the main focus of the Provo City government.
“If there is one crime, there is one crime too many,” Billings said.
The mayor proposed the hiring of four new police officers to create an eight-member police team. The new team will also be partially funded by a three-year grant from the federal government.
Chief Greggory Cooper is anxious for the new police officers to join the police staff. “I applaud the mayor as he prepares for the new century with this proposal,” Cooper said.
The goals for the upcoming fiscal year do not all require additional resources. The two new firefighter positions that have been added in the fiscal year will be maintained in the proposed budget.
Within the past four years, Provo City has added five new parks without receiving any extra revenue. Provo also has the lowest user fees along the Wasatch front. To accommodate the increasing population growth in Provo, however, Billings proposed the first increase in user fees in 17 years at the Provo City Recreation Center. The new fees will be similar to the fees charged by other Utah County cities.
The Parks and Recreation Department will continue “partnershipping” with the Provo School District to control unnecessary costs. No additional monies are proposed for the partnership with the Salt Lake Olymipic Committee, Utah County, Utah Sports Authority and Seven Peaks for the building of a new ice arena in Provo.
Supplemental funding has proven beneficial to many cities by obtaining grants. Billings proposed a new citywide grants writer to provide aid to all city government departments in seeking outside sources to provide funding for important civic purposes.
To celebrate the 150th birthday of Provo City in 1999, $40,000 is also proposed to help finance a portion of the cost. The rest of the money will come from outside sponsors.
This conservative proposal for the upcoming fiscal year will place a hold on further board growth in each city department. This will allow the city to specialize in the most vital needs of Provo City.