This was a very good council meeting (aside from the fact that we ended earlier than normal). What I especially liked is that we were able to have a vigorous discussion and share differing points of view without being disagreeable.
- Public Comment: Most of the comments (7 out of 9) were about the library. I will summarize at the end of the post. One of the other commenters wanted more info about the trail system and shared a trail safety item; the trail sign near Caddy Lane is too close to the bike trail and riders risk hitting it as they turn onto the trail.
Highland Fling 2014: Ron Jewett discussed the upcoming fling. He pointed out that they expect to raise significantly more funds this year than last. They are already well ahead of last year in terms of ads for the Fling Booklet (Good job Emily!). One issue is that because the Fling budget only reflects net costs (expenses less anticipated revenues) when they try to spend more than the budgeted amount difficulties arise even though there are offsetting revenues from sponsors. Our finance director will look into how this can be resolved.. Evidently public accounting practices make this less than straightforward. Here is a video from last year’s Fling that was put together by one of the sponsors Color My Media:
- Approval of Meeting Minutes for March 18: Approved.
- Approval of Meeting Minutes for April 1: Approved
- Library Funding Option Discussion: See below
New Ad HOC Committee Discussion:
The council discussed the proposed formation of 3 new ad hoc committees: Beautification, Economic Development, and Web & Social Media. Brian mentioned that at some point these should be turned into permanent committees as Ad Hoc Committees are supposed to have specific short term objectives and disbanded once the objectives have been reached. Dennis also discussed an economic development panel that Alpine has which meets monthly. It is composed of a council and planning commission member as well as other officials that could provide immediate feedback and feasibility answers.to anyone seeking to open a business in Alpine. Anyone interested in serving on these or any other committee should complete the volunteer form found on the city’s website and turn it in at the front desk of city hall. We will be taking a formal vote on the formation of these committees next council meeting.
Library Funding Option Discussion
In case you are not aware a portion of the city property tax is dedicated to the library via a special library property tax which was passed by the city council in 2007 by a 3 to 2 margin. Based on the city property tax revenues from 2010-2013 the library tax represents about 12% of the total city property taxes collected. All funds collected through this library tax, according to state law, must be put into the library account. We are one of three cities in Utah County (Highland, Provo, and Santaquin) that have a library property tax. Note, our county property tax bill only shows the total city property tax rate which includes the general and library property tax which is why many of us are not aware of this tax.
The item up for discussion at this meeting was whether or not to rescind the dedicated library property tax and add this tax to the general property tax. Most of the commenters mentioned their support for the library but made no reference to the library property tax (for or against).
- One person did say that there “should be no sacred cows” and supported rescinding the library tax and putting the amount to the general property tax.
- Another stated that “free access to information (books, Internet, videos) is a right”.
- A third read sections of Utah code which stipulate any funds collected from a library property tax must go to the library. Following that he mentioned that there could be legal issues if the city removed the library tax and added the amount from this tax to the general property tax.
Note, the city attorney commented that the council could, at any time, eliminate the library property tax with a simple vote. However, he believed that in order to raise the general tax the council would need to follow the “Truth in Taxation” process. I spoke with the county clerk’s office prior to the meeting and their belief was that since the net tax rate would not change that we could remove the library tax and add that tax rate to the general tax without going through the “Truth in Taxation Process”. Casey (our city attorney) will confirm what the proper process is to ensure that if the council acts on this issue the city follows the correct process.
Prior to the meeting the council received three emails from residents who could not attend the council meeting supporting the concept of removing the library property tax and moving the amount to the general property tax. Since the meeting I have received two emails expressing support for the library. My response to these best represents my point of view on this issue.
I agree that libraries benefit communities and appreciate your passionate support for the Highland Library. The item under discussion with the council is whether or not to rescind the dedicated library property tax and raise the general property tax by the same amount, not whether or not to close the library or even reduce its budget.
My rationale for supporting this is as follows:
1) To create a level playing field for all city departments. Is this library more important than parks, trails, roads or even public safety? As it stands now, that is the case as the library is the only department with a dedicated tax.
2) If the library budget is reduced by the librarian and board, the city does not necessarily benefit. All monies collected from the library tax, plus library fees and fines must go to the library. Note, the 2014/15 library budget is $9,000 less than the 2013/2014 budget.
3) As Highland grows and our property tax grows the library will get a fixed % of that growth whether or not the city has higher priority needs for the "new" money.
I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this issue.
The library budget is well managed by Kent Slade (the head librarian). However, the city’s property tax base is growing (there is a lot of new development occurring this year). If the dedicated library tax remains in place any increase in funds collected from the library tax will go to the library and not to other potentially higher priority areas.
The preliminary budget for next year, which I received this week, projects a $15,000 increase in library tax funds for next year (the city is always conservative in its estimates for property tax fund increases). Couple this with the $9,000 library budget decrease submitted by the library and we potentially have $24,000 that the library did not ask for, but which the city cannot use for any other purpose.
I welcome any of your thoughts on this issue. Feel free to call, email, text, or share your thoughts via Facebook or by commenting on this post.
- Feb 6, 2007 Council Minutes Item #5: Library board approved. Claudia Stillman states library could be established with $195,000 in funding
- Jun 19, 2007 Council Minutes Item #15: Truth in taxation date for proposed $200,000 library property tax set for Aug 7, 2007.
- Aug 15, 2007 Council Minutes Items 2 & 3: Public comment and vote to approve certified property tax rate which included a library property tax. Approved by 3 to 2 vote (the mayor voted because one council member – Glen Vawdrey - was absent).
- Jun 22, 2010 Council Minutes: Reduced Library Certified Tax Rate to generate about $200K and dedicated library fines and fees to the library.
- Library annual revenue/expense info.
Budget Year Revenue Expenses Net 2006-2007 $0 $ 27,679 NA 2007-2008 $ 244,330 $ 56,816 $187,514 2008-2009 $ 222,236 $ 500,634 -$ 278,398 2009-2010 $ 268,323 $ 220,289 $ 48,034 2010-2011 $ 261,915 $ 229,932 $ 31,983 2011-2012 $ 269,180 $ 228,651 $ 40,529 2012-2013 $ 265,892 $ 223,070 $ 42,822 2013-2014 $ 265,631 $ 248,823 $ 16,808 Total $ 1,797,506 $ 1,708,215 $ 89,291