Council attempts to avoid $1 per $1,000 valuation tax increase

The Bloomfield City Council Thursday night sent budget consultant Cindy Kendall and City Administrator Tomi Jo Day back to the drawing board to revise the city’s budget for FY 21-22.

The Feb. 18 meeting was the second presentation Kendall has given to the council this year. City officials and several councilmen felt the budgeting process was nearly wrapped up and a $1 per $1,000 valuation would have to be put in place to balance the budget. The $1 increase would bring in an additional $78,000.

Councilman Matt Cronin, who was absent for the previous meeting and not aware of the proposed $1 increase, objected on several counts.

“My concern is we’re headed in the wrong direction if we’re raising taxes in a community that is not growing,” Cronin said. “If we need more revenue, we need to get there by growing the community, not raising taxes. Right now, economic development is running into a headwind because of the tax burden.”

Day responded, “We’ve been working on this for about three months, but we can talk through this some more and think about changing.”

Cronin asked about looking at staff reduction.

Councilman Darin Garrett commented, “If we do this, we cut services and products. We’re short-handed as it is.”

Cronin then asked about cutting funds to Bloomfield Main Street and the Bloomfield Public Library.

Day commented that Davis County’s employee benefits keep going up and the city’s go down. “Could an (insurance) agent look at both as one entity and get better rates?” she asked.

Kendall warned the council they were going to have to schedule more meetings to complete the budget within the timeframe allotted by the state.

Mayor Dan Wiegand and the council asked for a proposal without a tax increase and agreed to extra meetings.

DPW Richard Wilcox reported the use of stored gas during last week’s extreme cold saved the city $900,000. “We burned all of our storage gas,” he said, “and Tuesday morning (Feb. 16), we were exposed to some $70 gas. Today (Feb. 18) it was down to $9 per unit.

Wilcox said a unit of gas normally costs $3 or $4. Gas rose to $600 per unit on Feb. 12 or 13, and Tuesday morning (Feb. 16) it rose to $1,000. Fortunately, the city was still running on stored gas at that time.

Wilcox also said the city helped avert rolling blackouts by firing up its generators and producing electricity for the City of Bloomfield on Tuesday and Wednesday, thereby allowing SIEC to divert its power elsewhere.

Police Chief Shawn Armstrong reported several cars had to be towed last week due to non-compliance with the snow ordinance. Armstrong also commented that writing citations is easy, but collecting fines is tough. “We need to set up a system so offenders will pay rather than incur a consequence.”

Development Director Tammy Roberts also reported code enforcement is taking up a lot of her time.

Wiegand also complained about the public not following snow ordinances. “Everybody needs to do their part,” he said. “We’re going to start enforcing ordinances. It’s easier to follow the rules than to bend them.”

The council held two public hearings Thursday night, but no comments were offered by the public.

The first hearing was on an amendment to the ordinance regarding the Cemetery Board of Trustees. The Board will consist of seven members including the Mayor, five Bloomfield residents and one county resident. The city clerk will serve as secretary. The board will assume general management of the IOOF Cemetery and Bloomfield Cemetery.  

The second hearing was on the establishment of Reserve Police Force, which will serve at the discretion of the Chief of Police and the City Council. Three certified officers have agreed to be on the reserve force for a salary of $1 per year.

Both public hearings were followed by approval of the first reading of the ordinance and waiving the second and third readings.

Fire Chief Jeff McClure reported his department responded to a trailer home fire in which there was a fatality. The department also struggled with freezing pumps and nozzles. McClure is asking residents to keep fire hydrants cleared of snow for better accessibility by the fire department if necessary.

DCDC Director John Schroeder reported he is working on an economic recovery task force through Area 15 to work on a digital marketing proposal. “The idea is to help main street businesses,” he said.

Schroeder also asked the council to consider a board walk around the square to draw visitors to the area. (See Schroeder’s letter to the editor in this week’s paper for details.)

In other action, the council:

• heard an audit report by Mike Podliska, CPA with Anderson Larkin & Co. for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020;

• approved payment of $74,829 to Duncan Construction for stabilization of 112-113 S. Madison Street;

• approved a quote, after striking one paragraph in the agreement, for De Carlo Demolition for selective façade removal and weatherization of 112-113 S. Madison;

• approved Class C Liquor License Renewal with catering privileges and Sunday sales for American Legion;

• approved liquor license renewal for a beer and wine permit with Sunday sales for Dollar General;

• approved purchase of gas meters and related equipment in the amount of $20,713;

• held a closed session to discuss strategy with counsel in matters that are presently in litigation or where litigation is imminent.