City Council Update: Council is considering increasing property taxes

The council is considering having a ten or five percent increase of property taxes. Councilman Carl Turner said they’re thinking through every option at this point and City Attorney Jon Call suggested searching through the budget to find areas they can cut to get the funding they need. Call said Ogden and South Ogden have property tax rates that are almost triple of North Ogden and the increase in new homes built in North Ogden has contributed to low rates. Call said 200 new houses per year would equate to about $40,000 of property taxes brought in. Finance Director Evan Nelson said they are expecting the economy will begin to slow down so they need to budget accordingly.

Increase staff benefits

The council and staff seemed unified in wanting to pay city employees what they’re worth and keep them from finding work with better benefits.  Nelson proposed to give an additional 3% of earned income to city employee 401Ks. The City has not had the additional 3% since 2009 when it was cut during the recession

Aquatic center rates

The council might raise the entrance fees, swimming lesson fees, or season pass fees to help offset the rising costs of operating the pool. Councilman Phillip Swanson said, “When the cost of water sewer or garbage increases, we raise the rates,” and this situation should be treated similarly. Parks and Recreation Director Tiffany Staheli said she thinks they would lose a lot of customers if they raised the entrance fees. Staheli said if they want to change the rates they need to do it before April 1st  which is when swimming lesson registration begins. The council will make a decision later when they have more data on pool revenues.

Increasing Mayor’s Stipend

Swanson doesn’t want to exclude the average citizen from participating in the local government so he hopes to increase the number of potential mayor candidates by increasing the mayor’s stipend. He wants to offer residents a high enough stipend so a working resident could cut back at work, act as mayor, and still make enough money. No official decisions were made.

Events coordinator

The council discussed their desire to have a full time events coordinator in the parks department to help with Cherry Days, amphitheater events, and other events in the city. Staheli is hoping to put things back to how they were before the economic downturn.

Amphitheater plans for the summer

The council will use a $321,779 R.A.M.P grant to help complete the plumbing, bathrooms, and lighting inside the amphitheater. They estimate it will cost a total of $1.1 million to complete the inside of the amphitheater.

Capital improvements fund

The council reviewed quite a few projects that will be paid for through the capital improvements fund and the council’s top priorities include the Lomond view bathrooms, a police station feasibility study, and a map scanner. The list of other projects is extensive and includes the skate park, the Campbell barn, the parks building remodel, the council room remodel, picnic tables, the Oaklawn Park football field, and surveillance, and a microphone system for the courtroom.

Cherry Days parade changes

Reserving spots along the Cherry Days parade route will only be allowed after 6 am the morning of the parade. Due to construction, the temporary parade route will go east on 3100 N, turn south down 1050 E, turn west onto 2600 N, and empty out at North Ogden Elementary. The council was unanimous in continuing the tradition of allowing candy to be thrown during the parade.

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