New Salt Lake City budget for the coming year approved
Salt Lake City — The City Council voted unanimously to adopt the City’s $1.5 billion annual budget, of which the general fund represents $425.5 million. The adopted Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget, which begins July 1, reflects the continued stabilization of an economy impacted by the pandemic, inflation, an increase in City population, and increased demand for City services.
The budget also reflects recent economic growth, a competitive job market, and balancing the use of one-time opportunities presented by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and the City’s healthy rainy-day fund a.k.a. “Fund Balance,” with sound fiscal policy aligning ongoing revenues with ongoing needs.
While debating the proposed budget and options, the Council acknowledged the impacts to residents and families of the property tax and fee increases. Ultimately, the Council concluded that this budget reflects the growing needs of the City, and establishes programs that the community has been asking for, such as park rangers and other diversified response models. The Council requested that the City continue towards program-based-budgeting to better understand the true cost and that it is done in an efficient way that is in line with the City’s policy goals.
The major budget and policy themes include; funding for diversifying public safety response, equity, increasing park maintenance, and continuing the City‘s commitment to housing affordability. The budget also maintains cash reserves and uses some one-time revenue sources to pay for some ongoing expenses.
“We are all proud of the work that went into putting together a thoughtful and detailed budget,” said Council Chair Dan Dugan after Council Members thanked the Mayor and her staff, Council staff, and the public for their helpful input. “It is a budget that reflects our City’s desires for public safety, equity, and takes care of the valuable family of employees as they work for us all. The budget balances our City’s needs and allows us to move forward into the future.”
Here are some budget highlights:
- The property tax increase will result in a $130.45 per year increase on a residential property valued at $520,000.
- Salt Lake City’s critical water and sewer infrastructure is undergoing extensive repair projects due to federal regulations and needed repairs due to age. The budget includes an increase of 15% increase for the four utilities: Sewer, Water, Storm Water, and Waste Collection, and will help the City keep pace with the growing costs of providing services.
- The budget reflects the City’s continued commitment to affordable and deeply affordable housing amounting, including dedicating just over $20 million for this purpose.
- Approximately $2.1 million for Sustainability to carry out several climate, energy, and food equity projects to further SLC’s environmental goals.
- $100,000 for free bus passes for school children program as part of an expansion of HIVE bus pass program.
- Funding for City-sponsored bus routes, in partnership with the Utah Transit Authority (UTA). Route 1 is a new route that will connect Rose Park to the University of Utah.
- Funding to form a new Fire Department Medical Response Team (MRT) in the Sugar House neighborhood, an expansion of the staffing model that has operated successfully in the downtown since 2014, responding to medical calls with lighter fleet, helping with the City’s sustainability efforts. There is also a team that serves the west side of the City.
- Increasing Fire Department staff to meet the needs of a growing SLC, including the addition of 6 full-time firefighters.
- The Police Department budget has a 25% growth due largely to due to increases in staffing to reduce response times and diversify response models with a new program called the Civilian Response Team. This group will respond to non-emergency calls for service rather than urgent life safety calls. Combined with the addition of victim advocates and previously added social workers, this will help reduce the number of calls that sworn officers respond to, with the goal of helping the public who need other types of assistance, and reduce response times for calls that do need a police officer response.
- Introducing a new focus area for “Funding Our Future” sales tax revenues to address funding for parks maintenance. This adds $2 million for this purpose.
- Funding to support and expand City’s Park Ranger Program, including funding to hire two more Park Rangers.
- Increased compensation for employees to help the City remain competitive in the tight local labor market, reduce turnover rates, and account for the impacts of inflation.
- Approved some $41 million for Airport Capital Improvements projects which include park and wait lot expansion, terminal front access road improvements, new plane hangars and taxiway reconstructions.
- Some general fund dollars to help pay for needs not covered by revenues at golf courses, including needed capital improvements for the Rose Park Golf Course irrigation system.
The Council also approved the proposed increase to the capital improvement budget and has scheduled July briefings to discuss the specific projects and funding sources, including proposed sales tax and general obligation bonds.
For more information on the Council’s budget, visit: https://fy23-slc-budget-slcgov.hub.arcgis.com/
*A Truth in Taxation Hearing, a public hearing required by the State, will be held on Tuesday, August 16 at 7 p.m., and formally completes the annual budget process. A judgment levy and property tax stabilization are on that agenda.