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South Valley Journal

Riverton 2018–19 budget approved

Aug 01, 2018 10:01AM ● By Jana Klopsch

Some $400,000 will be spent on improvements to Riverton City Hall. (Mariden Williams/City Journals)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected] 

Riverton officials finalized the tentative 2018–19 city budget at their June 19 meeting. Mayor Trent Staggs' initial budget was first proposed on May 2, and over the next few weeks the city council combed through it and compiled questions and concerns. 

Then, at the June 19 meeting, elected officials and staff members discussed each concern and decided upon budget amendments— a rigorous process that took about three hours. 

"We want to recognize the council members for all the work they've done in poring over this budget,” Staggs said. “It's pages and pages — it’s about a $33 million budget." 

This year, Riverton's sales tax revenue is forecasted to increase by 6 percent to almost $7.2 million—an increase that allowed the city to completely eliminate business licensing fees. "This is an all-time record for our city, and I believe this increase is still conservative based on the opening of Mountain View Village this fiscal year," said Staggs. 

Over the last 10 years, Riverton's sales tax revenues have grown by 61 percent, allowing for the city's 2018–19 General Fund balance to achieve a 25 percent cushion. The General Fund is where the bulk of city employee and operational costs are kept, and it’s the largest of the funds. 

"After several years of lean revenues for roads, through legislative appropriations, increased gasoline tax revenue and road impact fees, there is room this year to substantially increase the amount of road construction," said Staggs. This will include asphalt overlays and slurry seals. 

The overall amount of money allotted to road repairs has more than doubled, increasing from $521,213 to $1,695,450. This year's budget also allows for $2.3 million in new road construction, and an additional $44,000 for traffic calming measures—up from only about $1,000 last year.  

Riverton's parks should also be seeing a lot more attention this year — the park maintenance budget has increased by about $120,000, with a good $20,000 of that going toward tree replacement. The council also allotted $300,000 to the creation of new parks. 

Some $500,000 will be spent on improvements to City Hall and the city cemetery; $75,000 of that will be spent to annex another acre of land into the cemetery, which will allow space for about 1,000 more burial plots. 

One topic that earned a lot of discussion was switching the city's 3,500 or so street lamps from halogen to LED bulbs. 

"For every light pole we convert, we're roughly saving ourselves about $11–$12 per year per light pole," said Councilmember Sheldon Stewart. Though the initial conversion of a halogen light pole to LED is expensive; it pays for itself within a few years. 

"They last about between four and seven years, those halogen bulbs," said Public Works Director Trace Robinson. "We're constantly replacing them. And it's not just the bulbs, it's also the ballasts and things that are going out with those. Our electrician's out every day repairing lights." LED streetlamps, by contrast, last about 12 years. 

If both the ballasts and the halogen bulb die at once, the electrician retrofits the light post to hold an LED bulb. But if the ballasts remain functional, the post is simply given a new halogen bulb. Thus far, only about 600–700 of the city's 3,500 lights have been swapped to LED. 

"We've been working on that for probably six years to get to that point," said Robinson. "We're going slow." 

"I would like to see a more aggressive change-out moving to an LED standard and get that project done in a shorter time," said Councilmember Tish Buroker. "If it's taken six years to do this much, to get to your 3,500 lights, this is a lifetime project." 

The city council decided to start retrofitting light posts to LED every time a bulb burns out instead of waiting for the ballasts to blow out too, which should speed things along. But this year's budget allows only $100,000 of expenditure on streetlights, which is about $25,000 less than last year's and a good $75,000 less than what the department was seeking this year. Whether the lights will be upgraded at an accelerated rate remains to be seen.