What’s in our 2016 Budget

View of South Provo at sunrise from nu skin_carey moore

It’s time for the administration to present our budget to the Municipal Council. We’ve worked hard for almost a year on the budget with the goal of submitting a budget that is sustainable, fiscally responsible and in harmony with the direction of the Council. Our goal is to  maximize every dollar and provide a great value to our residents. Our employees understand that every tax dollar we receive is a sacrifice from our residents who trust us to use it wisely. While preparing the 2016 budget, directors were asked to evaluate their budgets and look for possible savings before they were submitted. Despite years of deep cuts, department directors were asked to keep operational budgets flat and submit only critical supplemental requests.

Here’s a sneak peek at what is in the budget

Three new police officers. An independent study done several years ago validates that we need at least 10 more officers. We can’t get there all at once but we’re asking for three in this budget. Two of the officers will be funded without any additional tax burden and one will be funded by our request to allow property tax revenue to keep pace this year with inflation. Increasing property taxes requires a Truth in Taxation hearing to be held in August supported by the Municipal Council.

Funding for a new fleet facility. Our current facility is old, ineffective, and most important – it’s not safe. Many of the vehicles we service can’t even fit in the existing building. We’ve worked for years to find a way to fund the building without increases in our general fund, however small rate increases will be required in our enterprise funds.

The budget also includes funding for a new citywide software system. Our current computer system is cobbled together with a series of programs all introduced with good intentions to solve problems but totally incapable of running the type of city you expect from us. Like the Fleet building, we’ve found a way to fund the software without increases in our general fund and only small rate increases will be required in our enterprise funds.

The Municipal Council will be presented with a proposal to place a Recreation, Arts, and Parks (RAP) Tax on November’s ballot. The proposed budget assumes the Municipal Council approves a resolution for the November election and the voters approve the RAP tax. If approved, the tax will generate approximately $632,000 in FY2016 (half of a year). The budget also assumes a 10 year RAP tax revenue bond will be issued in early 2016 for the construction and upgrade of new and existing Parks and Recreation projects .

Perhaps the part of the budget that is most difficult will be rate increases in our utilities. Water, Sewer, Stormwater, and Sanitation services all increase but as you can see from the follow graph we are still highly competitive and below almost all of our neighboring cites.

aaaOur budget also includes funding for overtime related to the Provo City Center Temple Open House, a new emergency notification system, an upgrade for the dispatch phone center, an automatic license plate reader (which will help us with parking enforcement), money to keep the recreation center equipment current, a budget to replace city trees and funding for the upcoming election.

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  1. kdown

    what about all the city streets and roads?! they are all getting REALLY bad with cracks and pot holes!!

    1. John

      Last year we implemented our Transportation Utility Fund. You can learn more about it on this blog post. http://provomayor.com/2013/08/22/utf/

      It will take a little while before we are able to cover the many streets we have in Provo but we are well underway on substantial improvements.

  2. Timothy Willis

    I am glad we are getting a few new Officer’s. Way to go. But we need to keep the ones we have. Is there any room to give them a raise? i am not a cop and am not related to any in Provo.

    1. John

      Timothy, Actually just today I met with the leadership of Provo PD to explain where we are on compensation. Each year every officer is eligible for a merit increase and each year we do a market study to make sure we are at the right pay for our great officers. This year the market study will result in additional pay increases for many of the officers.

  3. Shaun

    So among all the towns which boarder Provo, it is Provo with the highest taxes. Nice.

    1. John

      Shaun, I’m not sure where you are getting the impression that we have higher tax rates than our neighboring cities. We all work very hard to make sure our residents get a tremendous value for their tax dollar. Can you point out a specific where you think we are higher?

      1. Shaun

        Um, well, your chart. It shows both Springville and Orem with lower tax rates than Provo.

      2. Shaun

        The chart in this article…both Springville and Orem have lower tax rates. And even if Provo were the lowest, are higher tax rates in other cities a valid reason to raise taxes here? Why can’t we be a beacon for low taxes and efficient government? Every dollar spent by the city must first be earned by a resident and turned over for use. Larger government, more offices, more and newer cars, larger parking garages, etc are not signs of responsible use of taxing power.

      3. Dave

        I believe he is referring to the graph in your post, which shows Springville and Orem rates less than Provo.

    2. Suz

      I believe the chart/graph refers to utilities rates, not taxes. (See the paragraph immediately above the graph.)

  4. Tyler

    So why is Provo paying for the Mormon Temple open house security?

    1. John

      Tyler – Thank you for commenting.

      The City isn’t paying directly for the security directly associated with the temple itself. We need to be prepared for the potential number of visitors that will come to Provo. Imagine roughly a million people or more wanting to take a tour over a four to six week period. It’s important that we’re prepared and ready.

      Thanks again.


  5. Z

    Springville and Orem don’t compare to Provo for what you get for your tax dollar. And Provo tax is just barely higher.

  6. John McLaughlin

    What is happening with an upgrade to our water storage and distribution systen? In my mind, it is much more important than image items.

    1. John

      John -The upgrades are happening. Many of them you can’t see but we are improving the system.


  7. Muayyad Khudairi

    I recommend a gradual increase in water rates every year. Water is a scarce commodity and should be priced accordingly. I also support any tax that expands and improves parks in Provo. Mak

    1. Shaun

      Water rates are supposed to be based on the cost of supplying it and maintaining the delivery system. It is not meant to be a taxing mechanism. Raising rates on water or any other service as an arbitrary way to pay for social engineering is not the path of a free people.

  8. Tyler

    Maybe the organization that draws that many people should be prepared to pay for the security demand it creates. In any other situation, wouldn’t that organization be charged some form of impact fee?

    1. John

      Tyler – Yes, you are right. The Church has paid substantial impact fees with the building of the temple. These fees come in through Community Development and then into our general fund. We budget the extra open house dollars from this same fund. It’s also important to remember that the city will realize a very large financial boost from the hundreds of thousands of visitors that will come for the open house.

  9. J

    What about a new updated police department facility – specifically a new dispatch center, and safer, restricted parking for police personnel?

    1. John

      J – Thanks for paying attention.

      The public safety facility is a discussion we are going to have as a community. It’s not a simple budget item. If you’re as passionate about it as I think, then I’d like to encourage you to stay engaged and be ready to help when we start talking about it.


  10. Kevin Farnsworth

    Awesome job mayor, I love this city!!

    1. John

      Kevin – Thanks for the support!


  11. Jeremy

    Why not use the vast amount wasted space near and around the parks and rec facility for a new maintenance structure or better yet to save even more taxpayer money share the existing streets and sanitation maintenance facility which I’m fairly certain would accommodate what items needs to be serviced. Another money saver would be to cut the full-time staff hours at the parks and rec Department during the winter months, I was employed there for 5 years and know first hand that the winter months are more about planning personal outings and vacations than actual city related work and I feel a tax increase to support even more people to slack off in that department would be a total waste of time and money. To be frank, I think the city could better utilize the available ground already developed

  12. West Barton

    I’m wondering if anything is being done about bringing in a shopping center into the West side of town. I have lived on the west side of town for 37 years and watched a shopping center get shot down buy a few people and by far not the majority on the west side. I know that has been brought up before and it seems that Provo City is more interested in industrial types of business. All we have is a Family Dollar (which is making a killing) Is there any kind of update?

    Thanks West

    1. John

      West – Better shopping options on the West side are a high priority for us. We recently held a retail forum which you can watch online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m61HYXAkpzE
      If have time to watch the video it will help you understand our overall retails efforts in the city.


      1. West Barton

        Thanks for the Info I will watch it.

  13. Sandra Shumway

    I am a little tired of property tax increases. Not in favor. You could save a lot of money by not watering the parks so often. They are so soggy that it is hard to take kids to play in them. They are always saying save water but I don’t see Provo parks doing that.

    1. Shaun

      I agree. Water is not the only wasted resource though. As stated quite well by Diedre Henderson (State Senator), “Freedom is the fuel that government consumes”

    2. John

      Sandra, The property tax increase proposed only let’s us keep pace with inflation. For over 20 years we have been receiving less money in property tax each year because the system does not track with inflation. The proposal is for only one year. I’d love to learn more about what you have seen in the parks. Can you tell me which location has too much water?

  14. Terry

    What about retail? It seems to be dying in Provo and growing elsewhere.

  15. Rachel

    Great news about the police but what about the fire department?? Why aren’t they getting more funds? You’ve told me in the past that there isn’t enough funds for more first responder’s especially here on the west side of town that is growing exponentially!

    And, may I make a suggestion in regards to the roads and the future of our roads. I would love to see the roads more biker friendly. I think people would bike more if the roads had a bike lane. I am seeing more and more people trying to bike and there is no shoulder for them to ride on. As a biker myself, I would bike more places if the roads were safer for bikers………. (Example: downtown Provo Center St. Unless you ride on the sidewalk, there is no where for a biker to bike)!

  16. Ali

    I’d like to know more about the financial situation regarding the rec. center, please. Is there still a large debt, and how do the revenues stack up?

    1. John

      Ali – There’s been quite a bit said about the rec center in papers and on my blog. Do you have anything specific you’d like to know?


  17. Joe

    One thing we DON’T need is more police in Provo. There are too many already.

  18. Susan

    We desperately need more retail options. I HATE driving to Orem to go grocery shopping at Winco, but I do because their prices are so much better than Macey’s or Smiths. And Target is my preferred shopping place for pretty much everything else, and again, I have to drive to Orem. I don’t understand why Provo has such a hard time bringing in bigger retail stores. While I appreciate all of the locally owned restaurants, it is frustrating that our city is lacking so much in the daily shopping options for families. Doesn’t more retail give more revenue to the city? If so I would much rather my money go to the city I live in to directly benefit the citizens.

  19. A

    Why isn’t Provo implementing water restrictions? Things like no watering lawn in the middle of the day and things like that. It would save money that is wasted in frivolous use. We should be learning from California’s predicament by conserving now, not trying to fix a problem after it’s too late. I understand the need to raise water prices, but shouldn’t we also be trying to not waste it as well?

  20. James R

    Wow! Whether or not I agree with every item being proposed here, the transparency involved is amazing. Thanks, Mayor. This is a breath of fresh air. If all the mayors & councils around the valley encouraged such citizen input our communities would have so much less conflict and so much more trust.

    1. Caroline

      I’ve been thinking the same thing! I’m really enjoying reading the comment section (how often do you hear someone say that?) and seeing Mayor Curtis’s open and attentive responses.

  21. Charles Kallmann

    Mayor,We have lived in many cities and countries through a long military career,and now have retired to Provo and live in a lovely home in the Riverbottom.Comparing Provo to all of the others,Provo comes out head and shoulders above them all. We have a sense that the city is well managed,is clean,superbly landscaped,safe,well policed and enjoys all of the conveniences of a major metropolis.It only gets better like fine wine,each year. Thanks for you and your administration dedication to continue to make it better.

  22. Alice

    I would just like to see a better awareness for crossing guards. I am tired of people speeding through a school zone or not stopping. Any ideas to help them out would be awesome. Thanks

  23. J.J. Bush

    I will start by saying. Provo is a fantastic city and an awesome place to live. You are doing a great job as mayor. Thank you for that. My question is….. when the city needs money, it always looks at increasing property taxes but only about half of provo is taxed. When you subtract city, state, federal, churches, and byu. Why could we not impose a fee on utility bills that everyone pays.

  24. Richard

    Congratulations on asking for feedback on the city’s Administration’s proposed 2016 budget. Please consider allocating funds to upgrade the city’s baseball diamond used by Timpview HS. It needs a bigger backstop, repaired scoreboard, and a loud speaking system. It’s appears to be the poorest HS baseball diamond of all the teams Timpview plays. Please help improve the image of Timpview HS baseball program.

  25. Krista

    Thanks for all you are doing, Mayor Curtis! I appreciate your open communication with the people of Provo.

    Will there be anything in the budget to make Provo’s streets safer to bike on? My daily bike communte is terrifying, particularly on Canyon Rd by BYU and on University Ave around Center St. Any chance we’ll get bike lanes (ones without pot holes and cracks [see the lanes on Parkway])?

    Thanks again for listening!

    1. John

      Krista – Thanks for the question.

      We evaluate each and every road when we do work on them. When BRT goes through, many of the roads will be improved.


  26. Susan

    Mayor…we don’t have a single fenced dog park anywhere in this city for dogs that require exercise. Other towns like Las Vegas have marvelous ones where there are enclosures for different sized dogs. Dog parks are wonderful places to bring people together. Will we ever get one?

      1. Susan

        Yay!!! Thank you Mayor! You’re the best ever! We’ll be there with the dog! 🙂

  27. Beverley

    Thanks for being a great mayor Provo is doing well…..But we are wondering about the need for road repair all over the community…roads in the Oak Hills area havent been done In quite a while….doesn’t it take more money to wait until the roads are really bad and then repair them rather than do regular maintenance.

  28. Susan

    The dog park was a huge hit & the best thing was….. the dogs got along and there was quite a diverse group…from tiny chihuahuas to pittbulls to Great Pyrenees. Thanks again!

  29. D.

    What is the city doing to analyze and make pedestrian safety improvements to downtown Provo?

  30. WJB

    I agree with the comments about having to go to Orem to shop. That applies to Springville too! East Bay has multiple properties available…. particularly missing Deseret Book and Seagull Book. Why did they have to leave Provo? Years ago we watched as the City Fathers let University Mall go to Orem. Yes, now we have Provo Town Centre, finally. But why is it businesses, commercial and industrial, flee elsewhere? What has Provo got against serving its local residents? You want fewer cars on the roads but where are the buses that used to serve the residential neighborhoods? and yes, the roads need repair. We have been waiting for several years for our street to be repaired after the installation of some water lines. It is terrible and we were promised it would be repaired. I also agree that before you start raising taxes, the existing departments need to be assessed and the time and money spent in each
    evaluated for waste and/or inefficiency. We have great police and firemen and they do need to keep up with city growth. Lots to think about! Thanks for all your efforts! Please give special consideration to the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. The alternative is using cars!

  31. Robert Willam

    I forgot to add… the argument that what Provo pays in utility rates is within range of other communities within the area is invalid and misleading. Whenever you hear that from an elected official, take a deep whiff cuz what they are selling is rotten. That Orem pays x amount doesn’t matter cuz who’s to say that Orem or Am Fork or whomever isn’t paying way to much as is? So we raise our rates. Next year Orem raises their rates and play the ole “we are in line with what Provo pays” card and the next year we follow suite and so on and so on. Infinite loop. It’s how the union owned and controlled cities of San Bernadino and Stockton went bankrupt. Each used the argument that their fireman and policeman are paid X amount so we are just aligning our pay structure to match. End result were fireman pulling in $100k+ STARTING pay and some as much as $300k factoring overtime into the equation.

    My point is, two wrongs don’t make a right. Regardless of rates other communities pay WE JUST GOT SUCKER PUNCHED WITH A 74% RATE INCREASE. THAT IS UNPRECEDENTED.

    1. John

      Robert, I’m not sure where you’re seeing the 74% rate increase. If the comparison to other cities doesn’t work for you I’m happy to show you other data. For example, our increases are lower than inflation over a sustained period of time.

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