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Ogden mayor presents proposed budget to council

By Rob Nielsen - | May 4, 2023

Photo supplied, Mike Caldwell

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, in an undated photo.

OGDEN -- City employees are a major theme in the proposed fiscal year 2024 budget.

On Tuesday, Mayor Mike Caldwell pitched the final proposed budget of his tenure as mayor.

Caldwell began by praising the city's employees.

"I understood when I came into this office early that this is about our people," he said. "I do very little of the pick and shovel work. Our people do all of the work and they are really, really good and professional at what they do and we cannot thank them enough."

Caldwell laid out a proposed budget of $270,081,625 for fiscal year 2024, an increase of $2,990,575 (1.12%) from the 2023 budget adopted by the council.

He said there are several unknowns going forward.

"We do not know what's going to happen in the next little while," he said. "We've seen a bunch of banks failing and a lot of other stuff. There's a lot of economic insecurity in the country right now. We've tried really hard to maintain our reserves and make sure that we're in a good position to continue to provide the services that people need."

One of the biggest focuses of the presentation was on the city's employees.

"Our employees are the heartbeat of the city," Caldwell said. "That has been my top priority. The inflation rate as of March 2023 was 5% and we're going to give our employees as much as we can to make sure they stay here and stay happy."

He added that failure to retain employees in crucial positions can prove to be expensive.

"Bringing people in and retraining them when you have high turnover is incredibly expensive," he said.

Using law enforcement as an example, Caldwell pointed out that training a new police officer can cost $85,000-$95,0000.

He said the city has also not been immune to staffing challenges many businesses have been having.

"We used to be able to hire all kinds of people doing seasonal work -- mowing parks and greens, work at the golf course" he said. "We had a laundry list of things people could do and make entry-level wages. ... That's been a real difficult thing for us. We used to have close to 40 seasonal employees that would come and we've had years where we had eight to 10."

Under the proposed budget, all city employees would see a 1% cost-of-living adjustment, full-time general employees would get a 4% merit increase, and public safety employees will receive their next step placement on their anniversary date.

Caldwell also took time to highlight major capital improvement plan, or CIP, projects that are part of the proposed budget, including the reconstruction of the Marshall White Center.

This is something that we've all worked really hard on for the last number of years," he said. "The Marshall White Center will be part of that CIP. We're really excited about that. I think, collectively, the community is excited about that as well."

Earlier in Tuesday's meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to accept a bond parameters resolution for the issuance of bonds for reconstruction of the center as well as repairs to a parking structure in the Junction. A May 23 public hearing was also set on that matter.

Other CIP projects highlighted included an update to the general plan, street construction and updates to the bike master plan.

From here, the council will consider the budget at several upcoming work sessions with consideration of adoption of the final budget at its June 20 meeting. By law, the budget must be accepted by June 30 unless property taxes are raised.

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