Somerton’s budget to increase to $37.2 million

From Bajo El Sol | Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014 4:13 pm

SOMERTON – This city’s budget for the new fiscal year will increase by about $3.4 million to $37.2 million, with most of the additional funds allocated to construction of a new City Hall building.

Mayor Martin Porchas sought to assure residents that the budget hike, recently adopted by the city council, does not reflect any newly approved spending or tax increases by the city for 2014-15 fiscal year that began July 1.

In 2011, the city council approved a 0.8 sales tax increase to begin putting aside money for a new, larger City Hall that will be located in the downtown, not fair from the existing building at State and Main streets. The tax revenue would go to pay off a loan the city hopes to secure this fiscal year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for construction of the building, estimated to cost $3.7 million.

“We have to include that amount in the budget, in case we succeed this year in getting approval for funds for the new City Hall,” said Porchas.

The loan “is not money that we are guaranteed we will have, but it has to be included in the budget, because if they approve the loan, we can only use if it’s in the budget.”

In most other cases, Porchas said, the city is holding spending to last year’s level.

“As always, we are following a conservative approach to spending, although we hope this will be a better year for revenues for the city, thanks to construction of new homes and thanks to new businesses that are about to be opened.”

The budget for the new year earmarks funds to continue the city’s ongoing program to improve Somerton streets, as well as money for efforts to promote economic development, he said.