Mayor of Ogden proposes $2.8 million property tax hike to boost workers’ wages | News, Sports, Jobs
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In this screen grab from video of the Ogden City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, Mayor Mike Caldwell outlines his proposed spending plan for 2023.
Image provided, Town of Ogden
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A summary of some of the changes in revenue inflows expected in fiscal year 2023 in Ogden, in accordance with the proposed spending plan submitted by Mayor Mike Caldwell on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. A property tax hike to generate 2 $.8 million is included in the proposal.
Image provided, Town of Ogden
OGDEN — Mayor Mike Caldwell is proposing a property tax hike as part of Ogden’s 2023 budget to generate an additional $2.8 million for employee wage increases ranging from 8% to 14%.
“It’s all about our people. It’s about our staff,” Caldwell said Tuesday as he presented the spending plan to Ogden City Council. Raising the salaries of city employees in an effort to retain employees “is our priority this year.”
The budget also provides for a net addition of 19 new employees, including nine in the community and economic development department to help keep pace with building growth, four in the fire department and three in the police department.
Boosting pay for police officers, firefighters and other city employees has been a focus of Ogden leaders. The city council approved the latest of several recent wage increases for workers in April, bringing the cumulative annual cost of the increases since 2021 to some $9.71 million. The new increases for 2022-2023 would be in addition to the previous ones.
The overall proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, is $265.5 million, up $38.9 million or 17.2% from the 2022 enacted budget of $226.6 million. Some $25.6 million of the increase represents federal funds from the U.S. Bailout Act, while proposed salary increases for the coming year would require another $8.7 million, according to the budget summary.
Ogden City Council accepted the proposal without discussion and will now hold a series of working sessions to work out the actual budget for the coming year. Caldwell’s proposal will be the starting point for discussions with a public hearing on the draft budget scheduled for June 7, according to Councilman Luis Lopez. A hearing on raising the property tax rate, if the city council goes that route, would be held Aug. 2, Lopez said.
Officials do not yet know what impact the proposed hike would have on individual homeowners, as they await additional information from Weber County officials that is needed to make these calculations. But if Caldwell’s proposal is accepted, property tax revenue in the 2023 budget would increase to $19.4 million, including the $2.8 million tax hike and additional revenue generated by the new growth, up 21.9% from $15.9 million for 2022.
Under the spending plan, firefighters would get 14% wage increases, police would get an 8% increase and other workers would see a 13% increase. In advocating for wage increases, intended in part to help with worker retention efforts, Caldwell noted that turnover leads to increased costs in the form of recruiting and training new employees. Constant layoffs can also lower the morale of those left behind.
“Keeping well-trained and capable people here is absolutely critical to what we do,” Caldwell said.
Ogden last raised property taxes beyond what state law allows in 2018 for the 2018-19 fiscal year. Earlier this year, the city council approved a policy change calling for property tax hikes to be considered every two years, in part to avoid the need for less frequent but potentially larger increases.
Sales tax revenue in Ogden is also expected to increase by $4.3 million in 2023, from $21.6 million last year to $25.9 million.
Funds to help build a new Marshall White Center, the center of intense debate in recent months, are also included in Caldwell’s spending proposal.