Salt Lake County shrinks budget by $17 million
Salt Lake County will squeeze millions of dollars from its budget and eliminate nearly 100 staff positions -- but chances are, you won't notice it.
Seniors still will get hot lunches under the Meals on Wheels program. New libraries still will be built in Millcreek, Magna, West Jordan and Herriman. And the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office still will get the money to reopen a second jail in South Salt Lake.
Even so, Salt Lake County will cut $17.4 million from its budget --- close to 4 percent from every government office -- to keep its finances afloat during this recession. Without immediate spending cuts, the county warns that it could face a $50 million shortfall by the end of 2010.
So county leaders will slash $3 million from the sheriff (but still open Oxbow Jail), pull $788,000 from the district attorney and pluck $7.5 million from the mayor's portfolio that includes agencies such as Aging Services, Public Works and Parks and Recreation.
The Salt Lake County Council adopted those reductions Tuesday.
Most of the staff reductions will be achieved by not filling vacant posts, though officials confirmed they will lay-off a half-dozen people.
"Not a fun time for anyone around here," Councilman Michael Jensen said, "especially for the next year and half or so."
The pain of the county's penny-pinching will stay mostly in-house. The impact on programs affecting you, the taxpayer?
"Really, nothing," Mayor Peter Corroon said. "We are just trying to do it through efficiency. We have asked everybody to tighten their belts and not cut programs."
Yet the slimmed-down spending plan cuts awfully close to the bone for some agencies: the Recorder's Office, for example. Last year, Recorder Gary Ott took a $1 million hit and now he'll have to trim $214,000 more.
"I can do this one," said Ott. "But the next one, I'll have to fire people."
Yet county officials insist that the savings are necessary, particularly with sales tax revenues slipping faster than expected.
"The quicker we start doing this," Corroon wrote in an e-mail to employees Monday, "the easier it will be."
Those cost-cutting measures mean an overall reduction in the county's work force through attrition, no government contributions to employees' 401(k) accounts and, quite possibly, a wage freeze going into 2010. At this point, the mayor has not proposed furloughs, although he told employees this week that he would consider unpaid time off as an alternative to lay-offs.
Bruised by a recessionary economy, Salt Lake County will cut $17.4 million from its 2009 budget. Here's the breakdown:
District Attorney $788,277
Employee Service Reserve $179,234
Mayor's Office/Operations $7,544,521
Suspended 401(k) contribution $3,100,000
* Total includes $1.2 million in jail reimbursement funds that the county hadn't expected to receive from the state.
Source: Salt Lake County