Ogden council hopes virtual town hall will spur involvement in city budget process

Thursday , July 27, 2017 - 5:15 AM

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — The Ogden City Council hopes technology will bring more voices to the table to discuss the city administration’s 2018 budget proposal

The council will hold a second “Virtual Town Hall” meeting on the budget Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. on Facebook Live. The council held a similar meeting on July 11.

RELATED: Ogden wants to bump tax rate to pay for some unfunded needs

Ogden residents can submit questions and comments before or during the meeting at any of the council’s social media accounts.

Council Communications Manager Brittany Griffin said staff will read the questions as they come in, with council members then responding live on camera.

Questions can also be submitted after the meeting on the comments section of council’s Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages and under the hashtag #OgdenBudget on Twitter and Instagram

Citizens can also give feedback at the last public hearing scheduled for the budget, which is set for Aug. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Ogden Municipal Building, 2549 Washington Blvd. 

Griffin said the virtual town hall concept is a council office initiative, meant to spur involvement in one of the body’s most important and exhaustive yearly actions.

RELATED: Ogden budget could include small tax increase, city seeking input

“We wanted to look at ways to get more people engaged in the budget process,” she said. “This is an easy way for people to get involved and have their questions addressed immediately.”

The 2018 Ogden budget features several items of note, including a proposal to increase its Certified Tax Rate, which was recently handed down by the Weber County Auditor. The city administration wants to keep the rate at its current .003 percent, even though the county identified its 2018 CTR as .0028 percent.

The administration says the proposal will fund $808,000 in expenses that have been identified as “needs” in the budget.

Those include building improvements (including upgrades to the Union Station), increases in the Ogden Police Department’s annual operating budget, money for council studies and to buy new equipment for the police and fire departments.

In a news release, Council Chair Marcia White said the tax increase is necessary to keep up with inflation.

RELATED: Ogden mayor unveils proposed $185 million budget for 2018

The county auditor calculates a city’s CTR based on the previous year’s assessed property valuations and the amount of property tax received. The certified rate can fluctuate up and down as long as a city receives the same amount of property tax revenue as it did the prior year, discounting any new development.

According to the Utah Taxpayers Association, as existing property valuations increase, property tax rates decrease. The reduction stops local governments from getting an influx of money simply because property values have gone up.

“Property tax is designed for revenue neutrality, meaning the revenue the city receives stays the same every year,” White said. “If we generated $10 million in property tax revenues last year, the state tax commission would use their models to adjust the CTR to generate $10 million for this year.

“As values increase, the property tax rate proportionately decreases,” she said. “Consequently, we are three decades behind in adjusting for inflation.” 

The council will take final action on the budget at the final public hearing on Aug. 8.

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer.

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