Millcreek moves to prepare the fiscal budget amid uncertainty
Jun 08, 2020 11:02AM
By Kirk Bradford
By Kirk Bradford | [email protected]
Recently, many throughout Utah have experienced everything from earthquakes, storms and more fallout from the pandemic. These issues are all being assessed and a response incorporated into the fiscal budget.
John Geilmann, Millcreek’s city manager said, “It is difficult to determine what is normal, what is new normal and what is new now, because the global, country, state, county and city, social, physical and financial environment are in a constant state of change. The only thing that seems to be predictable is unpredictability. However, Millcreek now has several years of accurate historical data that helps the city to optimize conservative fiscal budget predictions.”
The following are some of the considerations Millcreek officials have chosen to go into the fiscal year 2020/21 budget preparations. Budget revenues and expenditures have been reduced from the previous year budget. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city budget is preparing for a possible downturn in the economy during the upcoming year. If there isn’t a downturn in the economy, the city has said it’s prepared to adjust the budget on a quarterly basis if it is appropriate.
The city plans to avoid any immediate unnecessary additional debt and focus on the most appropriate balance to be maintained in the budget reserve fund. The city has implemented a temporary staff hiring freeze.
The city is creating a critical infrastructure list that defines critical and then will try to prioritize the needs as defined. Once the list is created, the list will be constantly reviewed for cost and value to the city as a whole by the City Council.
The city negotiated with its contract service providers and was able to minimize increased costs paid by the city for those contract services.
The city is adopting written key financial policies that they plan on having implemented with this fiscal year budget and are said to be a strategic component in the city’s budgeting process for years to come.
“The best explanation for the budget is that it is the implementation tool for all of Millcreek’s existing and proposed services that are to be provided to the residents, business, and all stakeholders of the city for this next fiscal year,” Geilmann stated. “The City Council has been involved in several work sessions and has given much input and review to determine the best use of city dollars for the municipal services that help to make the city a safe, clean, and welcoming community in which people live, work, shop and have daily contact.”
Some other changes and highlights to the budget include the city installing technology in the City Council room that they anticipate will provide “a better quality” live streaming of council meetings and provides for remote input for residents’ comments during council and planning commission meetings from the safety of their homes. The budget includes a 2% COLA (Cost-of-Living Adjustment) and a potential 2% Merit increase for city staff, pending actual revenue receipt. The budget also contains an anticipated $3,270,000 fund balance reserve. The complete budget can be found online at Millcreek’s government website, www.millcreek.us
On May 16, Gov. Gary Herbert moved most of the state, including Millcreek, to a yellow risk phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The general guidelines moving forward from Herbert included cautioning the, “people most vulnerable to the virus, as well as their caregivers, to remain sheltered, as the situation is still high risk for them. Encouraging people to continue to wear face masks—not to keep you from getting sick, but to keep you from getting others sick. According to the state, wearing even a homemade mask can take the risk of transmitting the virus down from 70% to 1.5%.” The complete list of guidelines can also be found online.
According to city’s website, “The state's decision to move most jurisdictions to yellow is based on data available in the Small Areas of local health districts. Small Areas are based on zip codes. Millcreek's 60,000-plus citizens reside in various zip codes, including primarily in 84106, 84107, 84109, 84117, 84124.” At the time of this writing the positive test rate was at 5.2%.
The state did not move Salt Lake City or West Valley City to yellow at the time because of the higher caseloads in those communities. But the state did reject Salt Lake County's request for an exemption from the order to move to yellow. Since the state had already concluded, based on the available data and had already rejected the county's exception request, that Millcreek's risk level should move to yellow. Millcreek decided not to request an exception as well.
“The state's action is designed to mitigate the risk of the virus's effects while also monitoring economic demands,” Herbert said.
According to the Millcreek newsletter, businesses have been said to have, “adapted to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties it brings: safety for employees and patrons through social distancing, hand washing, masks. For the last few weeks, we have provided a list of Millcreek businesses that have informed us of what special services they are providing during this critical time.”