Public Safety board Meeting (April 8th)
Tim Irwin could not make it to the meeting so as the Highland alternate board member I attended. The primary discussion item was the 2016-2017 proposed budget. Both the fire department asked for a 2.7% increase and police for a 4%increase. During the meeting I made the comment that from Highland’s perspective I could not support percentage increase greater than our projected general fund tax revenue increase. Note, if police or fire request a 2% increase Highland will end up with a +2% increase because for both police and fire we are growing faster than the other cities that share in the cost (Fire: Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, Police: Highland and Alpine).
Since then Highland held a budget workshop where we reviewed the public safety budget in historical terms. Below are two charts which show the % of tax revenues consumed by Public Safety since 2000 and the actual dollar amounts.
Click here to view the data behind the charts. Regardless of the value of public safety I don’t believe that it can continue to consume an ever increasing share of the city’s tax revenues each year. Any growth, should be aligned with anticipated revenue growth. If you look at the percentage chart the cost of the police department started at 40% and last year was 38% (it has ranged from 33% to 41% over the 16 year historical period). Fire has grown from 10% to 27%. Overall Public Safety has grown as percentage of tax revenue from 50% in 2000 to 65% in 2015. At this rate of growth it will consume 100% of tax revenues in 35 years.
On April 28th the board will vote to adopt a preliminary budget. The meeting is at Highland City Hall at 7 AM. Please come if you want to share your views or gain a better understanding of the budgets. Please understand, I am not vilifying anyone nor am I saying that the requested increases are not for desirable items. I however pointing out that city funds are limited.