WEST HAVEN — In the wake of the decision to forego implementation of a new property tax, West Haven officials faced the task of trimming nearly 10 percent from their 2019 budget, around $860,000.
Turns out it wasn’t too complicated, said Mayor Sharon Bolos. At a special meeting Wednesday, city leaders pulled the money from a new capital projects fund, ending with a $7.95 million general fund spending plan that eliminates the need for the new property tax. That’s down from the earlier $8.81 million proposal, according to Steven Davis, the city’s treasurer.
But the notion of having to someday implement a city property tax doesn’t necessarily go away and could resurface when talks start early next year to craft the 2020 spending plan.
“In the spring, the council will have to see if they want to propose it again,” Bolos said.
City officials proposed instituting the tax for the first time due to pressures brought on by the city’s quick growth and the rising costs of contracting with the Weber County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement protection. After the public clamored against the proposal at an Aug. 15 hearing, though, calling on the city to scale back spending instead, they voted against the tax hike, leading to Wednesday’s special meeting.
Per Wednesday’s action, a day before the city was required by state law to approve a 2019 spending plan, the West Haven City Council reduced a new capital projects fund within the larger budget from $1.05 million to $168,000. Other minor tweaks accounted for the final spending total.
The money in the capital projects fund, as originally envisioned, was to have been used to build a $365,000 indoor sports facility, a $180,000 addition to the city’s public works facilities and for other future projects. The proposal for the sports facility, for basketball and other city rec programs, raised some eyebrows in West Haven. But it wasn’t as elaborate as some had seemingly thought.
“It was a pole barn with some upgrades,” Bolos said.
The 2018 budget totaled an estimated $9.74 million, more than the 2019 plan owing to a major road project.
West Haven and Marriott-Slaterville are the only two Weber County cities without a city property tax.