Public Safety Fee
Of the many services that the City of Veneta provides its citizens through property taxes, public safety services is the one most likely to come to mind. However, city property taxes also pay for parks, city administration, community planning, and some construction debt. Public safety services receive the lion’s share of city property taxes—generally fluctuating between 52% and 59% over the last ten years. As public safety services command more property tax revenue, other city services receive less property tax support.
Additionally, property taxes alone haven’t been enough to pay for public safety services over the last eleven years. In 2009, the City started directing all of its internet franchise fee revenues into the police services budget, as well as using money from the Law Enforcement Fund’s Ending Fund Balance—the emergency reserve.
In 2015, the City started directing Zumwalt Campground fees to the public safety services budget. Additionally, the emergency reserve had declined roughly $150,000 to a Fiscal Year 2015-16 Ending Fund Balance of $271,251, an amount $110,000 below the City’s ending fund balance reserve policy of having four months of operating expenses plus $100,000.
Over the subsequent two years the City directed two more revenue streams to the public safety services budget: City marijuana sales taxes in 2016, and State marijuana sales taxes in 2017. This helped to stabilize the eroding emergency reserve. Meanwhile, internet franchise fee revenues dropped by half from over $50,000 to roughly $25,000. The Law Enforcement Fund’s emergency reserve is now $197,000 below what it should be to meet the City’s reserves policy—nearly double the deficit from six years ago. See Attachment 1 for this Ending Fund Balance trend.
The City’s public safety services funding strategy is not sustainable in the face of diminishing fee revenue and the consistent use of emergency reserves. A more stable funding source is needed to stabilize public safety service funding for the future. A public safety fee as part of the City’s monthly utility bill could provide that stability and make the City’s public safety services funding sustainable.
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