Salt Lake County mayor proposes $85M for repairing, improving county facilities

Oct 25, 2022, 2:51 PM | Updated: Nov 22, 2022, 11:25 pm
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks after being sworn in in Salt Lake City on Jan. 29, 2019....
Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks after being sworn in in Salt Lake City on Jan. 29, 2019. Wilson's proposed budget for next year focuses on "overdue" improvements to county buildings and infrastructure, and compensation for county employees. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Amid concerns over inflation and its future effects, Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson’s proposed budget for next year focuses on “overdue” improvements to county buildings and infrastructure, and compensation for county employees.

Wilson described her proposal as “the tale of two budgets. There’s some tough news, but there’s some very good news in this budget as well,” she said Tuesday in a presentation to the Salt Lake County Council.

She proposes to use $85 million for high-priority deferred maintenance projects, which would be the largest investment in maintenance in the county’s history, according to the mayor. Due to their age, some facilities are “really, really necessarily needing some attention,” which has been delayed more than a decade.

Other items of note in the proposed budget include a $2 million investment in the Other Side Academy’s tiny home village for those struggling with homelessness; $5 million for open space preservation throughout the county; $2 million to support capital costs of creating a new Utah Aids Foundation community health center, which Wilson said would be the first LGBTQ health center in Utah; and $500,000 for planning a new animal services center and animal park.

The base budget is “unusually limited” this year, due to a rise in the cost of goods, Wilson noted, but one-time federal funding exists for improvements. She said county leaders denied staffing requests and held off on creating new programs within the budget.

“The good news is that we have once-in-a-generation opportunities through federal investments. They allow for transformational change in our community, especially for those most often left behind,” Wilson said.

The budget would include money to replace the roof on the Salt Lake City Sports Complex; improve American Disabilities Act accessibility at recreation centers; perform repairs and improvements at the county jail; improve parks, recreation and senior centers; and repair the county sewage canal, as pumps need to be replaced and vegetation is impeding the canal’s flow, Wilson said.

The proposal includes a 4% base salary increase for all county employees, as well as a one-time compensation “boost” for all employees based on their pay grade. Those in the lowest pay bracket would receive a one-time 4% raise; those in the middle pay grade would receive 3%; and those at the highest grade would receive 2%.

The county’s general fund stands at $284 million at the beginning of the fiscal year, Deputy Mayor Darrin Casper said, and the goal is to have the general balance remain above $180 million.

Leaders project slow growth for Salt Lake County moving forward, but not a recession, according to Casper, despite the current “historic” levels of employment.

He said it might be “wise” for the county to keep an eye on federal legislation. Should Congress get a new makeup, it could take American Rescue Plan Act funds away, Casper said, pointing to a potential need to use the funds on one-time expenditures before that might happen.

The Salt Lake County Council will consider the mayor’s proposed budget and decide whether to implement it.

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Salt Lake County mayor proposes $85M for repairing, improving county facilities