Manti budget down $129K with
completion of sports complex
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—The Manti City Council has approved a $2.2 million general fund budget for 2020-21, down $129,000 from the previous year’s budget.
The action came following a public hearing June 17. The general fund covers city government costs, such as the Manti City Justice Court, the city’s contract with the Sheriff’s Office, salaries for the city manager and office staff, and maintenance of roads, parks and the swimming pool. It is the part of the budget the city council has the most control over.
City Manager Kent Barton said the city had cut its revenue estimates for the FY 2020-21 about 5 percent compared to 2019-20 because of the anticipated economic impact of the corona virus. “And we squeezed our expenses every way we could,” he said.
For 2019-20, projected revenues came to $2.29 million. The estimate for 2020-21 is $2.18 million.
One other factor in the drop is that last year, the budget included $101,500 in donations, mostly an Eccles Foundation grant and individual donations for the $4 million, 30-acre baseball-softball fiveplex on the north end of the city. Major work on that project was completed last year, although further enhancements are planned over time. So in the new budget projects only $1,000 in donations to the city next year.
Other revenue changes include a drop of $61,950 in charges for services, such as swimming pool admissions and rentals of city facilities. Because of virus concerns, only 100 people can be admitted to the pool at once, compared to a capacity of 300 in normal times, Barton said.
To buttress revenues in 2020-21, the council approved a transfer of $410,000 in profits from utility operations to the general fund and added in $50,000 from reserves, which is essentially the city’s savings account.
Even then, to make the 2020-21 budget balance, and in fact, come out a little bit in surplus, council cut almost $94,000 from waste collection compared to a year earlier, $39,000 from the airport, $42,000 from swimming pool operation and maintenance, and $22,000 from the city park. When all was said and done, the 2020-21 budget showed a slight surplus of $22,600.
The $410,000 transferred from enterprise funds to the general fund for next year included $350,000 from the electricity fund and $60,000 from the sewer fund.
During the public hearing, Alan Braithwaite of Manti questioned the practice of using money from utility enterprise funds to pay for city government.
If the utilities are generating surpluses, the money should be put in a rainy day fund, or rebated to ratepayers, or utility rates should be cut, he said.
Barton said the city electric utility, in particular, had subsidized city operations for many years, as is common in cities throughout Utah that run their own electric systems. Those profits have enabled the city to hold down property taxes, he said.
He said spending the profits from utilities to support the city is a way of giving the surpluses back to the rate payers. In contrast, when cities rely on a private power company, any profits go to the stockholders.
During the June 17 meeting, the council wrapped up financing of the baseball-softball complex. The city had been holding funds for the ballpark from gifts, grants, loans and long-term savings in a special account and transferring them as needed to its Municipal Building Authority, a structure used to manage capital projects and pay construction bills.
The council approved a transfer of about $566,000 from the special account to the general fund. Then it moved about $400,000 of that to the municipal building authority.
Although the construction contract for the fiveplex is complete, there will be ongoing costs for staffing, improvements, upkeep and paying interest on a loan, Barton said.
The final estimate for 2019-20 for youth recreation, which included the fourplex, was $277,750. The estimate for 2020-21 is $239,500. The numbers include debt service, a full-time sports director, lawn mowing, planting trees, taking reservations for use of the facility and general administration. “Even a little of my salary is in there,” Barton said.
As part of its budgeting process, the council also approved expenses of $3.15 million in the city’s enterprise and special funds. These are self-contained funds that bring in money, mostly from ratepayers, and use it for their operations.
Manti’s enterprise and special funds include the water, power and sewer systems; the municipal building authority; and the perpetual care fund (which gets funds from sale of cemetery lots and uses some of it to help take care of the cemetery).
When the total projected city expenses in both the general fund, and in enterprise and special funds, are added up, the numbers for last year and next year are almost the same.
In 2019-20, the budget for the total city was $5.28 million. For next year, the amount is $5.31 million. The dollar difference is just $21,164, less than one-half of 1 percent.