Salt Lake City Council approves final budget, using $1.1 million in extra cash for new firefighters

SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council voted to approve this year’s $331 million budget Tuesday night after making a few changes to the mayor’s proposal — including more funding for six additional firefighters.

And while the council also reduced a parking fee increase proposed by the mayor, Salt Lake City residents and visitors will still be paying about 25 cents more for parking.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

A parking kiosk in downtown Salt Lake City is pictured on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is recommending that newly available funds be used to reduce a proposed parking meter rate increase from 50 cents 25 cents.

The City Council’s approval of the budget solidifies many line items included in Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s budget proposal unveiled last month, which included pay raises for employees and police officers (meant to increase officer retention), as well as tens of millions of new sales tax money for transit, affordable housing, and streets thanks to a sales tax hike city leaders approved last year.

The final budget also included another installment of Salt Lake City water rate increases, including an 18 percent sewer rate increase, a 10 percent hike on stormwater and 5 percent hike on culinary water to pay for infrastructure improvements, such as a new wastewater plant estimated to cost $528 million.

The council spent the last several weeks delving into the budget and exploring changes — including a previous proposal to use overtime savings and a two-month delay in hiring 23 new police officers to help pay for the cost of six more firefighters and training, which would total about $289,000.

The council also eyed a 50 cent increase in parking meter rates, which Biskupski proposed to address decreasing revenue and changes in state law. Though council members signaled they were unhappy about the rate increase without more public input, an informal vote last week showed the council would narrowly support the proposal.

But then, the city lucked out.

Monday, the State Tax Commission released final revenue numbers, showing an additional nearly $1.1 million in growth revenue city leaders could factor into their budget, according to city staff.

The City Council then voted to use the extra revenue to fund the additional firefighter positions — and a 2.5 percent step pay raise for firefighters at their nine-year mark — as well as use about $393,000 to reduce the parking fee increase to 25 cents, rather than 50 cents.

Earlier Tuesday, Biskupski issued a statement saying she had “deep concern” about the city using new sales tax revenue meant to hire new police officers to do “anything other than what the residents prioritized in their support of the sales tax increase,” calling on the City Council to use the extra growth revenue to fund the new firefighters.

“The council runs the risk of breaking trust with the public by funding things other than the priorities identified by residents,” Biskupski said. “This proposal allows us to fund new firefighters while …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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