BRIGHAM CITY — Residents will pay a bit more on their electric and other utility bills with the city’s energy tax increasing from 2.25 percent to 4 percent.
However, the energy tax rate increase was less than the original overture, which would have more than doubled the rate to 5 percent. The 4 percent rate increase works out to $1.75 more on a $100 utility bill.
The city council recently approved the energy tax increase, hurrying to get the decision in before Oct. 1, which gives the city the requisite 90-day period before the new rate goes into effect Jan. 1.
The increase is expected to bring in $159,000 over the first six months.
Mayor Dennis Fife said the city had already tightened expenses but remained in a tough financial position because of inflation and lower sales tax revenue.
“We’re left at the point where we have no money left for capital projects,” he said.
The energy tax goes directly into the general fund and is used for capital projects.
City Administrator Bruce Leonard’s plea for council members to allow enough funds for the city to care for what it already owns seemed to sway council and audience members.
For example, he explained, “we have a failing swimming pool.”
Leonard said when taxpayers give the city assets, government has a responsibility to maintain those assets for the public’s use.
“It’s a never-ending battle. There’s never enough money. Even maintaining what we own, the costs go up every year,” he said.
Fife speculated that, with a drop in natural gas costs, which has lowered some residents’ gas bills, the tax increase may have a reduced impact.
The rate increase also will be seen on bills for electricity, which is provided to Brigham City residents through the city’s own power company.
The city has not raised electricity rates for three years and instead has absorbed any increases in power rates.
For example, Rocky Mountain Power, from which Brigham City buys 70 percent of its electricity, will raise its power rates by 5.6 percent in mid-October, Fife said.
However, he said, Brigham City residents will not see that increase on their bill.
Some council members questioned whether, instead of raising the energy tax, electric rates should be increased to reflect market rates. They agreed to look at that approach in the future.
Fife said the energy tax increase also was preferable to a property tax increase, because all consumers, including renters, pay the utility tax.