West Jordan City Council begins budget discussionsMar 02, 2021 01:16PM ● By Erin Dixon
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
West Jordan’s fiscal year (FY) 2020–2021 budget is balanced. Now how does the city keep it that way?
Finance Director Danyce Steck outlined revenues to the city council in February and how to keep spending under what comes in.
“Instead of expenses driving revenue, we’re driving the revenue first,” Steck said. “We’re saying this is what our budget is, and our expenses are going to have to fit in this box.”
Revenue comes through three avenues: sales tax, property tax, and fees and fines.
“Our general fund revenues are going to be about 30% property tax, about $17.4 million,” Steck said. “Sales tax is 40% at $23 million. The rest is from franchise taxes (cable, hotel room tax, telecommunication) and fines and fees (permitting, charges for services, fines for the court).”
Some revenue streams are slowly drying up, and what used to be reliable income is no longer something the city can count on. This means that other sources of income must be found.
“Telecom is continuing to be reduced in revenue,” Steck said. “We’re almost in half in the short year period (2018–2022). Cable, we might see the same trend. We’re not seeing it decrease too much right now, but as streaming services continue to move forward, we may see the reduction in cable services.”
As of February, Steck is planning to keep expense planning in line with revenues from last year, rather than budgeting on uncertain income growth.
“If you were to [spend] everything that you did in 2021 and change nothing, that was $57 million,” Steck said. “Change nothing” means at this point there is little room to bring back employees, raise salaries or add any services on top of what the city is already doing.
More than 30 employment positions were lost last year after the state declared a state of emergency.
“I would not be able to say with strong confidence that we will have much money left to add positions back into the budget and accomplish what the council and the department heads have recommended at this point,” Steck said. “This is very, very early budget stages. Keeping in line with last year’s income, there could be a little left over. What we’re estimating is a remaining $2.3 million. We’re hoping that is going to be applied to other changes in expenses for the next year. That’s only 4% so it’s pretty slim but it’s better than where we’ve been.”
Where the city has been is using general funds, which is like a savings account, to make up for over-expenditure and underfunding.