Last chance for public comment on Salt Lake City budget that includes hike in library tax, sewer, water rates

First Published      Last Updated Jun 06 2017 01:23 pm

Now’s the time for residents to raise objections to rate and tax increases that would cost a typical resident about $100 per year.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski's 2017-18 budget has encountered little resistance from council members or constituents ahead of Tuesday's final scheduled opportunity for public comment.

Although proposed rate and tax increases would cost a typical resident about $100 per year, only two dozen speakers weighed in at two previous public comment sessions. The budget is expected to be voted upon June 13.

The average residential sewer customer would see an increase of nearly $60 per year in sewer rates and $20 per year in water rates, and the owner of a $250,000 home would pay $20 more in property taxes to city libraries.

The City Council, meanwhile, has raised few objections about those hikes and pressed pause on debates with Biskupski about subsidizing golf courses and bonding to improve the city's streets. Council members have found little room to maneuver in a budget they've described as tight.

City spokesman Matthew Rojas said longer-term city staff have described it as "one of the smoothest budget processes they've gone through."

"The council has asked good, well-reasoned questions," Rojas said. "Nothing has made us feel terribly uneasy."

Council Chairman Stan Penfold announced at last week's work session that the council and administration have agreed to keep Rose Park Golf Course in the golf enterprise fund rather than move it to the general fund, which Biskupski had proposed in defiance of stated council policy.

The city is still expected to subsidize the course to the tune of $400,000, but any additional losses would be absorbed by the city's golf business, not the general fund.

Penfold said this arrangement — the current one — not only safeguards the general fund, it also protects the Rose Park course.

"You put Rose Park at far greater risk by putting it in the general fund than leaving it in the enterprise fund," he said. "You put it in the general fund, and the first time there's a crunch in the general fund, everything gets cut, including Rose Park. It seems like it's far more vulnerable, to me, long term in the general fund, than if we can help craft a golf fund that's solvent."

Additional conversation about the future of the city's six municipal courses is expected in the coming months. Tuesday's City Hall meeting is at 7 p.m.


Twitter: @matthew_piper