With an eye on streamlining and the quality of life in the City, Council Members approved an annual budget on Tuesday that enhances City services in such areas as public streets & transportation, affordable housing, and public safety. The $331 million general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 was passed by the City Council on a 7-0 vote.
The City’s budget is the operating budget for delivering services and includes the capital budget for major infrastructure projects. Examples of quality of life improvements in the year ahead include:
- more employees for Fire, Police and the 911 system,
- adding hybrid police vehicles and new body cameras,
- the possibility of more public safety patrolling at City Parks,
- more employees to help with the City permitting process,
- money for additional tree planting and more Urban Forestry employees,
- continued major funding for affordable housing programs,
- restored funding for various homeless services,
- continued funding a full-time coordinator for the 2020 Census, and
- funding for street maintenance, traffic calming, and a full year of enhanced bus service on various routes.
The SLC budget is funded primarily by the City’s ongoing general revenue sources such as property and sales taxes. A 0.5 percent sales tax increase authorized by the State Legislature and passed by the Council in 2018 will help fund the additional or enhanced services for public safety, street maintenance, affordable housing, and better transit options. A general obligation bond passed by voters last fall also will provide $87 million for street reconstruction in the years ahead. These new revenue sources combined are known as “Funding Our Future” and more information about programs using these funds can be found at fundingourfutureslc.com.
The new fiscal year kicks off on July 1.
“As Council Members we always take our job as the guardians of public funds very seriously. This year, the first full year the new sales tax revenue has been entrusted to us by the taxpayers, streamlining and making a more efficient, transparent government has become even more important,” said Council Chair Charlie Luke. “We have confidence this work will help us in continuing to build a stronger, vibrant capital city.”
The result of the Council’s attention to the financial details has produced a more efficient and transparent budget in such areas as:
- Ensuring $2.59 million in funding for our affordable housing loan program is available quickly and streamlining it by consolidating two processes into one.
- Getting more in-depth review of nearly $2 million in other proposed funding for new housing programs.
- In Sustainability Department, no long-term goals or programs have been delayed by the request for a public process regarding a fee increase. The Council’s discussions are about making sure this valuable program has funding to thrive for as long as possible.
- Spending new sales tax revenue through the Funding Our Future initiative on increasing all facets of public safety through the police, fire, and 911 dispatch departments.
- Restoring homeless services funding of $129,000 for services to continue throughout the year, ensuring no lapses.
- Addition a Fire inspector for building plan reviews to add efficiency improvements.
- Make the most of the huge Fleet Block development by requiring master plan approval and a competitive bid process to ensure a full and transparent public process.
- Restoring funding for training and general staff support within the budgets of various City departments and functions, including necessary travel for economic development purposes, fire department training, and incentive programs for paramedics.
- Supporting the “Building an equitable City” initiative by continuing the conversation to ensure that over $450,000 are used in a coordinated way to ensure no duplication of efforts in various departments.
This year’s deliberations also ended with approved increases on public utility bills for wastewater treatment upgrades, including a new $528 million facility, and other public utility improvements. The new Water Reclamation Facility construction and costs are being phased over several years in order to meet regulatory standards by 2025. Also, city employees, including police and fire personnel, will receive a raise.
Council Members say public input on the budget has been valuable as residents have spoken at public hearings and sent in comments through email, phone calls, and social media. Two public hearings were held, starting in May after the Mayor made an initial budget recommendation to the Council.
At the Formal Meeting on June 11, the Council adopted the budgets for the City overall, the Redevelopment Agency, the Local Building Authority, plus budgets for the Library, Airport, and Public Utilities (stormwater, sewer and water, and street lighting services). The adopted Budget in its entirety will be available online here: www.slc.gov/Finance/investor-relations-city-financials/budget upon publication.
A Truth in Taxation Hearing, a public hearing required by the State, will be held on August 20 at City Hall and formally completes the annual budget process.
Learn more about the City budget process at www.slccouncil.com.