City Raises Fees, Reduces Services to Balance Budget

City Raises Fees, Reduces Services to Balance Budget

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CEDAR HILLS, Utah (AP) -- Cedar Hills is reducing services, raising fees and establishing new charges to balance the budget without hiking property taxes.

The measures include dropping the library reimbursement program, slashing the Community Services Department from $149,000 to $60,000, cutting departmental materials and supplies by 10 percent and slicing mayoral and council education, training and travel expenses by 80 percent.

"The city has a balanced budget without using a dime of growth revenue. We're not operating at a deficit," said City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt.

The city would like to increase property taxes, said Councilman Jim Perry.

However, an initiative passed with 70 percent voter approval in 2003 requires property tax increases go to a vote of the people.

"It's ironic, we did a statistically valid survey that showed our residents favor more services, not less, and are even willing to pay for them. But we are completely unable to so, because of the tax cap," Perry said.

Council members have raised water and storm sewer rates and increased the charge for installing water meters.

There now will be a $15 charge for a bounced check for utilities and a $15 charge to reread water meters.

"There is also a new universal city late fee," Hildebrandt said. "Any payment that is late to come it will be a $10 charge, whatever it is, for any department."

To stave off future rate increases, the city must bring businesses to the city, said Perry.

"Projections show taxes will go up" without a commercial tax base, he said. "That's why we've slashed nonessential services."

The need for attracting business was cited by opponents to a recent initiative that would have banned stores from selling beer or being open on Sundays. The initiative was defeated.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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