KAYSVILLE -- The city council has voted unanimously to increase electric rates by 9.65 percent beginning Nov. 1.
The decision comes after six weeks of discussion and public comment regarding the need and motivation behind the increase.
City staff recommended the increase to pay for a deficit in operating costs, the hiring of three police officers and to return cash reserves to 90 days of operating costs.
Although the council heard many objections to the increase at previous council meetings and a public hearing on Oct. 2, there was no public comment regarding the increase at this week's council meeting.
"I feel like we have to do this because of the costs to the power company," said Councilman Mark Johnson.
"Also, I don't take it lightly that we are transferring some funds from the general fund for the support of police, but I feel very strongly that we need to have additional police ... but I also think that, in coming years, that maybe could be shouldered by a property tax increase."
Councilman Gil Miller agreed that the new police officers should be funded by property taxes.
"I would hope this council keeps an open mind in the future as to when it is appropriate to raise property taxes, and I believe that even little old Kaysville is impacted by inflation," he said.
"It's not a crime to increase property taxes when it's desperately needed."
Councilman Brett Garlick pointed out that the council enacted an ordinance earlier this year requiring city staff to annually present an analysis of the electric reserve fund to prevent large increases such as this one.
The electric fund had been running at an average operating cost deficit of $482,390 for each of the past five years -- meaning the city was being charged more for electricity than it was charging customers, said City Manager John Thacker.
Garlick emphasized that the new ordinance should prevent this type of shortfall from happening in the future.
"The staff is compelled to come to the council with an analysis of the reserve fund annually. ... We'll have this discussion every year so that we're not trying to catch up," he said.
Even with the increase, city officials said, residents' electric costs are still lower than customers of most power entities in the state.
Finance Director Dean Storey said the customer bills he analyzed were about 10 to 12 percent lower than the bills of Rocky Mountain Power customers.
Garlick reiterated that point, saying, "The one thing to point out to everyone is that, even with this rate increase, we still are lower than Rocky Mountain and most of the other private or cities with public utilities."
Councilman Jared Taylor mentioned that residents needing help with their utility bills can receive financial assistance through the Utah HEAT Program.
Davis County residents can also call 801-394-9774.