HARRISVILLE -- In order to balance the fiscal year 2012-2013 budget, the city council must resolve a $140,206 shortfall between projected income and expenditure.
Mayor Richard Hendrix said the two main reasons the city expects the revenue gap are possible wage adjustments for city employees and lower sales tax revenue.
Harrisville has been doing comparisons with similar cities to provide more competitive benefits for employees. The proposed budget includes a cost-of-living wage increase for employees.
The cost-of-living increase would vary depending on position. Positions that are considered more vulnerable to losing employees might get as much as an 8 percent increase, while other positions might get 5 percent.
The city has had a hard time retaining employees, because they are paid less than those in surrounding cities. In the space of three years, Harrisville has had three different city recorders. One left for a better-paying position with Ogden city and another left for a higher salary with Weber County.
"They're really good. We love them, we train them and then both of them were recruited away for other cities," said City Administrator Bill Morris. "It hurts our family when that happens, and we need to treat our family better, if we can."
The other main factor in the budget is lower sales tax revenue, primarily from the Harrisville Walmart, which now has to compete with the Walmart on 17th Street in Ogden and Winco on 12th Street.
"When the economy started going sour, we were doing OK, but now it's caught up to us," Hendrix said.
The city council proposed three main solutions to help balance the budget. One is to increase property taxes.
"It's not an easy thing to do, because all the city hates property taxes, so we need to make sure we've looked at all our options," Hendrix said.
Another option is to contract with Weber County Sheriff's Office for police services rather than maintain a separate police department. The council plans to discuss this option further after receiving a bid from the department, but acknowledges that there are some issues with it.
"Once you hand that power over, it's hard to get it back, with start-up costs and everything," said Councilwoman Paula Knighton.
The other option discussed is creating a unified police department with nearby cities. This option would require a lot of collaboration and communication with other cities.
"Maybe we would save money on paper, but it still may not be what we want to do," said Councilman Bruce Richins. "There are subjective things to consider."
Knighton emphasized that the council is not limited to these three options.
"Nothing is sacred -- we'll look at anything," Knighton said.
The council agreed to look at the options of contracting out police services, creating a unified police department, and implementing budget reductions.
Councilman Chad Allen said:
"We're asking ourselves, is there a way we can bridge the gap without passing it on to the citizens?"