Final numbers from the State Tax Commission, released yesterday, have resulted in $876,352 in new available growth revenue in Salt Lake City for this upcoming fiscal year.
The City is currently in the process of finalizing the FY20 budget, which must be adopted by the City Council no later than June 30th.
Given the timing of final tax information from the State and County, it is not unusual for changes in revenue to happen toward the end of the City’s budget cycle.
Mayor Jackie Biskupski has recommended to the City Council that the additional funding be used to reduce a proposed $0.50 increase in parking meter rates, projected to raise approximately $786,000 in FY20 to $0.25 and $393,000 in annual revenue. The increase is part of an overall shift of parking related charges proposed in the Mayor’s recommended budget to address decreasing revenue and changes in State law.
“While this is an issue we need to address, the extra revenue gives us some breathing room to implement the increase and engage the public to develop a more comprehensive plan,” said Biskupski on the proposed parking change.
Mayor Biskupski is also recommending the City Council use the additional revenue to fund a proposal for six new Salt Lake City fire fighters. At their Thursday work session, the Council indicated initial support for a plan to hire the new fire fighters and increase training, at a total cost of $289,000.
The City Council has proposed overtime savings and a two-month delay in the hiring of 23 new police officers—part of the 50 officers the Administration and City Council agreed to hire in 2018—to help offset the cost of the new fire fighters. The $289,000 would come directly from the City’s Funding Our Future sales-tax initiative which was set aside specifically for affordable housing, transit, road repair, and neighborhood safety.
Prior to passing the Funding Our Future sales-tax increase in 2018, the Administration and City Council staff participated in a public engagement process to assess community support for the four priority areas. Information, including survey material, used during this process specifically defined “neighborhood safety” as law enforcement efforts, and the hiring of the 50 additional police officers.
“I have deep concern about using the Funding Our Future revenue for anything other than what the residents prioritized in their support for the sales tax increase,” said Mayor Biskupski. “With less than a full year of the Funding Our Future initiative completed, I think it’s critical we stick to our commitment to the residents. The Council runs the risk of breaking trust with the public by funding things other than the priorities identified by residents. This proposal allows us to fund new fire fighters while keeping our promise to the public.”
While the budget is currently with the City Council, Mayor Biskupski hopes the members will take into consideration these recommendations prior to voting. Following the City Council’s approval, the mayor has 15 business days to sign the budget, veto some or all of the budget, or let it go into effect without her signature.