Layton official suggests rounding up citizens' utility bills

Sep 23 2013 - 11:42am

LAYTON -- A city councilman has suggested rounding up citizen utility bills to the nearest dollar could generate a revenue stream for the city that could help fund a number of community programs.

Councilman Barry Flitton recently unveiled his idea in a combined work session with the city council and the planning commission. He said the program would have little financial impact on citizens, but would help be a big benefit to community programs.

He said the program would have an opt-out option, for people unwilling to pay the extra pennies per billing cycle.

He estimated the simple change could generate as much as $60,000 a year for programs. He estimates the impact to residents would be $3 annually and would add $6 to commercial bills on a yearly basis.

"The monies generated will be used for any program that would benefit families and could change from year to year, depending on the programs benefited, programs most in need, with city council making the selections," Flitton said.

When pressed about how the additional pennies per utility bill would be segregated from funds for services rendered, Flitton said the matter would be a software issue. He said the funds would be earmarked.

Programs aided by the extra funding could include: the Davis Arts Council, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Layton Youth Council. The funds could also be used for playground equipment, as well as potential funds for one-time programs and projects, the city leader said.

Flitton discussed his idea with Alex Jensen, city manager.

Jensen said he ran numbers on what impact the change would have on an average bill. He said the numbers show it would add, on average, .54 to a utility bill.

Jensen said if the roundup option were implemented it would be important to ensure the funds would not be subject to council approval. He suggested the funds could be dedicated to functions like helping indigent children pay city fees for recreation programs.

"In my opinion, this would be something you would want to be very explicit about where the money would be spent, and how it would be spent. The worst thing would be if citizens had a view the money was just going into the $50 million budget to the city," Jensen said.

Flitton joked his proposal is politically motivated, since he is up for re-election this year.

His quip brought a mixed reaction from Mayor Steve Curtis and council members present.

 

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