Kaysville completes fiscal impact analysis of initiative petitions

Mar 30 2011 - 11:26pm

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KAYSVILLE -- It could cost Kaysville residents $90,000 more a year in taxes should the city change its government to a strong mayor form, according to a fiscal impact analysis prepared by the city's finance director.

The analysis, released Tuesday, is in response to three initiative petitions filed by the group Kaysville Citizens for Responsible Government.

One of the petitions requests changing the city's form of government from a strong city manager to a strong mayor form.

According to Kaysville Finance Director Dean Storey's analysis, going from a city manager to a full-time mayor form of government would save the city $34,357.

However, the net cost to the city would be higher in having to hire an administrative assistant to the mayor at an annual cost of $124,714, including salary and benefits, Storey wrote in the report.

The law proposed by this initiative would result in a total fiscal expense to the city of $93,657, resulting in a property tax increase of $89,957, Storey estimates in his analysis.

But the citizens group sponsoring the three petitions challenges Storey's fiscal analysis.

The citizens group takes exception to the idea that the mayor would need an assistant when all of the city department heads are competent in running their respective departments, said Margaret Brough, co-founder of Kaysville Citizens for Responsible Government.

"We believe that Storey's fiscal impact statements are opinions that are based on biased evidence skewed to make his arguments," reads a letter dated March 30 from the citizens group to Kaysville City Recorder Linda Ross.

And the group, in its letter to Ross, requests being able to reserve the right to challenge Storey's figures at a later date by offering an opposing viewpoint with the information they intend to share with potential voters.

But Mayor Steve Hiatt defends Storey's analysis, pointing out the four cities within the state with similar-sized populations having a strong mayor form of government have "some form of a city administrator or assistant."

For that reason, the cost to move to a strong mayor form of government would be significant, Hiatt said.

"I'm not sure it is worth the expense to fix something that is not broken," he said of what the group is asking.

The other two petitions filed by the group, requesting the establishment of geographic voting districts for five of the six council positions and restriction of the use of the city-owned power company funds, have a minimal or "highly variable" fiscal impact to Kaysville residents.

The cost to establish district council seats is about $3,700 -- the cost to publish a voter information pamphlet -- while the fiscal impact of restricting the use of the city's power fund revenues cannot be clearly defined, as there are too many policy and administrative factors to adequately determine a cost, according to Storey's nine-page analysis.

Hiatt said it is difficult to determine what the fiscal impact to the city would be if it were to restrict the use of power funds.

In the past, the city has used the revenues to buy land to promote commercial development, which, when achieved, adds to the city's sales and property tax base.

But the back-and-forth bickering between the mayor and city council and the citizens group is nothing new.

To avoid complaints that city officials have been stalling in accepting the petitions and providing a fiscal impact statement to limit the time the group has to circulate the petitions for signatures, Hiatt said, the city made the fiscal statement available to the group earlier than it requested as a result of Storey's working over this past weekend.

"We continue to be as accommodating as possible and have moved as expeditiously as we could," Hiatt said.

Kaysville Citizens for Responsible Government on Wednesday prepared its initiative packets for city certification and will begin to circulate the three petitions throughout the city for signatures.

The group needs 1,456 signatures on or before April 15 to place the measures on the November ballot.

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