Ogden officials hosting first of two hearings on budget, tax hike
OGDEN — Got questions or thoughts on the City of Ogden’s proposal to boost property taxes to help cover the cost of giving city workers raises?
You have a chance to speak out at a public hearing on Tuesday, the first of two focused on the proposed 2023 budget, which contains the tax hike. Next Tuesday’s hearing will take place at the Ogden City Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. and will be held at the city municipal building at 2549 Washington Blvd. The second hearing is set for Aug. 2.
Meantime, elected city leaders are apparently having second thoughts about boosting their own pay as outlined in the proposed $267.2 million spending plan, or at least at the same level as proposed for other workers, 13%. Also at next Tuesday’s meeting, the council will be considering an ordinance giving them more leeway in setting their wages.
“Council members were uncomfortable with the proposed increase for (fiscal year 2023) of 13%,” reads the council background material on the agenda item.
As it stands, city code requires elected officials to give themselves the same cost-of-living increases they give other workers. The proposal up for discussion next Tuesday, by contrast, “allows the council the flexibility to adopt salary schedules for elected officials that do not include an increase if the council feels an increase is unwarranted,” the staff report on the matter reads.
Last April, leaders boosted the mayor’s annual salary from $133,765.59 to $136,440.90. If the 13% boost is approved for fiscal year 2023, that would rise to $154,178.22.
The base pay for City Council members, considered part-time workers, would go from $22,950 to $25,933.50 under the 2023 budget plan. The council chairperson’s pay would go from $25,704 to $29,045.52, while the council vice chairperson’s pay would go from $24,327 to $27,489.51.
In presenting the proposed 2023 budget last May, Mayor Mike Caldwell emphasized the importance of boosting city employees’ wages to retain workers and get the best help possible. In a statement this week, Ben Nadolski, the City Council chairperson, echoed that.
“Inflation has hit us all, and Ogden city is no exception. This increase will help us continue to retain quality employees and continue to provide a high level of service to our residents,” Nadolski said.
At the same time, he said the City Council wants the public to have a chance to speak out. “We want to be completely transparent with the proposed increase and give residents plenty of opportunities to have their questions answered and their voices heard,” he said.
Aside from the 13% pay raise for general city workers, firefighters would see a 14% hike and police, who have already received notable pay hikes, would get an 8% pay boost. Ogden employs around 650 full-time workers.
The proposed tax hike would generate an extra $2.8 million, according to the original spending proposal put forward by Caldwell. The increased funds would also be used to help hire 19 new workers, including nine in the Community and Economic Development Department and additional police and firefighters.
If Caldwell’s proposal is ultimately approved, property tax revenues in the 2023 budget would increase to $19.4 million, including the $2.8 million tax hike and additional revenue brought on by new growth, up 21.9% from $15.9 million for 2022.
The increase, according to figures from the Weber County Clerk/Auditor’s office, would raise city property taxes on a home worth $410,000, the median value, by $82.53, from $437.47 to $520. That’s an 18.9% hike. The city of Ogden has created a tax calculator to help the public get a gauge of the impact of the proposed hike. It’s available online at ogdencity.com/budgetprocess.
Ogden is hardly alone in mulling a tax increase. Several other entities are also considering property tax hikes this year, including the Ogden and Weber school districts, the North View Fire District, the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District and the cities of Harrisville, North Ogden, Riverdale, Roy and South Ogden.
The tax bill property owners receive each November includes taxes from all entities that operate where their property is located — the county, school district, city and more. City taxes represent just one portion of overall property tax bills.
Indeed, Ogden’s share of overall property tax bills sent in 2021 represented around 17.5% of the total, according to city figures. School districts charge more, and last year, according to the city, the Ogden School District collected more than 55% of overall property taxes in Ogden.