City Council re-affirms City plans to help meet housing needs as Members unanimously override Mayor’s line item vetoes
SALT LAKE CITY – City Council Members have reaffirmed their support for a plan within the next annual budget that accomplishes three major goals: streamlining government, emphasizing the City’s efforts to be transparent, and helping expand the affordable housing stock.
As part of that affirmation, the Council (also in its role as the RDA- the Redevelopment Agency Board) unanimously chose today to override most of the Mayor’s recent line item vetoes, which primarily dealt with housing issues in the coming fiscal year’s RDA and City budgets. Council Members let one veto stand involving memberships in civic organizations, and modified a portion of another which provides immediate support for a Road Home program.
Council Chair Charlie Luke said he hopes to see the Council and Mayor’s Administration work together as the funding for housing programs are publicly reviewed in future meetings. The Council has expressed support for the proposed programs and requested additional discussion of the housing programs proposed by the Mayor, as well as the process for providing loans to developers.
“Our streamlining effort reduces confusion and redundancy in a growing housing program that has been spread over two City agencies,” said Charlie Luke, Council Chair. “With our changes, no program is slowed down. In fact, these changes recognize the talents of the City’s Housing and RDA staffs, who are dedicated to creating new affordable housing, providing quality programs, and improving the process. We all share the goal of increasing the supply of affordable housing.”
The Council wants to ensure the valuable housing funding is spent in the most strategic and impactful way.
“Quick and targeted actions in this housing crisis is a joint effort with the Mayor and every City department,” said Amy Fowler, the RDA Chair. “Providing well-connected, affordable housing opportunities affects every City service from transportation and transit, to public safety, recreation, and environmental initiatives. For taxpayers, consumers and the business community, we believe this change in our housing loan process is best in the long run.”
With an eye on the quality of life in the City, Council Members approved an annual budget on June 11 that enhances City services in such areas as public streets and transportation, affordable housing, and public safety. The $331 million general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20, which begins July 1, was passed by the City Council on a 7-0 vote.
The veto message on June 25 raised some concerns about delays or problems the Council’s budget changes may cause related to housing programs and the loan fund. The Council’s intent with all funding for housing programs and loan funds is to make the money available quickly, and to recognize the value of the funding that allows the City to make a lasting impact.
Regarding the Housing Program funding: additional discussion time – outside the budget crunch – will allow the Council and Administration to have the necessary conversations to fully review the programs, purposes, goals, etc. With the goal of increasing access to the program funding so that strategy and impact will be maximized, the Council in the budget adoption added these requirements to the funding:
- Public notice of funding availability,
- Application, review, and approval processes similar to other City grant programs.
Also in the veto message were concerns about affordable housing development loan funding: the Council will review with the RDA the process with housing trust fund loan money at the six-month and one-year marks, and will hold public hearings at that time, as well as receiving comments during the year.
This is the second year – and first full year – of increased housing funding, thanks to the “Funding Our Future” sales tax increase that the public supported. It is unprecedented to continue being able to allocate such a high amount to affordable housing projects. The City wants to ensure that the funds are available so that this valuable opportunity is successful.
The public is invited, as always, to the next Council Meeting at July 9, starting at 2 p.m. in room 326 of the City & County bldg., 451 South State Street. 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.
For more information about the changes in the Housing process, see a letter sent to the community. Learn more about the City budget process at www.slccouncil.com.