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South Valley Journal

No tax increases forces City to look elsewhere to fund infrastructure projects in the coming year

May 30, 2022 04:58PM ● By Michael J. Jewkes

By Michael J. Jewkes | [email protected]

The Riverton City Council adopted its tentative budgets for the 2022-2023 fiscal year last month causing many to look optimistically to the city’s future.

Mayor Trent Staggs released a statement along with the proposed budget to the public in early May with some highlights of what this year’s budget could include. “There are no proposed fee or property tax increases.” Staggs said. Low taxes and fiscally conservative spending have been a trademark for Riverton’s government for years, and this year’s budget proposals were right on par.

With post-pandemic economic rebounds and intense inflation, Riverton has still managed to maintain its no-property tax policy. In order to accomplish this, the city government has had to find ways of raising revenue without raising taxes or instigating property tax, something its residents desperately love. With high inflation rates and prices for goods on the rise, this has been no small task.

Commercial sales tax is the city’s top source for making up the difference for the fault in property tax. General sales and use taxes are expected to account for $12 million in revenue for the city’s general fund. This is up from the $6.26 million accounted for so far in the 2021-2022 budget. According to Staggs, “Sales tax revenues have increased 59% since 2018.” Staggs anticipates finishing around $11 million in sales tax revenue for the current fiscal year. Leading to a potential for a $1 million increase in the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Staggs, backed by the City Council, have made their ambition for creating new infrastructure projects obvious. Projects such as broadband connectivity in government buildings, secondary water metering, much-needed sidewalks, and new roads remain the top priority for Riverton’s infrastructure spending. Without tax increases to raise revenue to fund these projects, Riverton city has used other funding sources like the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) and the Class ‘C’ Road Fund to make up the lost ground from tax cuts.

The ARPA funding is set to be spent on specifically two areas of projects in the city. First, broadband infrastructure in city buildings. This will be used to eventually branch out to benefit private entities as a whole in the city.

Secondly, ARPA funds would help provide a cleaner water supply and save money by lowering watering costs for the city as well as the county. Councilmember Tawnee McCay claims that Salt Lake County is spending around $1 million on what is known as “culinary water” to water a county golf course in Riverton. Riverton’s famous Green Well could be providing water to keep the golf course available, according to McCay.

“One thing that the city is using ARPA funding for…would go to do a reverse osmosis system on this Green Well…and pay for a pipe to go in, that would pipe it into this golf course.” She continued, “If we were able to do that…they would be able to keep that $1 million worth of water [for] culinary uses.”

McCay still feels that ARPA funds have done more harm than good saying, “…overall…I don't feel like any of the cities have had a true need for this money. I think that…the inflation…is hurting our residents more than they're getting the benefit from these specific projects."

The Riverton City Council is set to finalize the budg