SLC budget: Raises and fireworks â yes; tax hike â no
Employees will get a 3 percent pay raise â the first in six years â but property taxes won't go up.
Those were among the high points Tuesday evening as the Salt Lake City Council adopted a $229 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The council did raise property taxes last year, overriding a veto by Mayor Ralph Becker. That 13 percent increase, equivalent to $8 million, was ostensibly for road and park maintenance and upgrades. But it appears to have helped fund employee raises this year, according to Councilman Kyle LaMalfa.
"The budget was so tight last year there would have been no pay raises this year without that tax increase," LaMalfa said.
The city budget kept revenue projections for curbside parking at a modest $3.2 million, hoping to escape problems during the current fiscal year when those revenues fell short of earlier projections.
And while the council chose to endorse the mayor's 2014-15 budget for pay raises, property taxes and parking revenues, it went its own way on fireworks, Fire Station 9, and funding for west side youth programs among other things.
The council gave a thumbs down to Becker's proposal to stop funding summer holiday fireworks displays in an effort to limit air pollution.
It set aside $40,000 for the pyrotechnics: a $15,000 grant for Sugar House Park for its Fourth of July celebration; $12,500 for Jordan Park's Independence Day party; and $12,500 for Liberty Park's July 24 gala. However, those celebrations would be canceled if PM 2.5 particulate pollution exceeded 25 micrograms per cubic meter 24 hours before the scheduled fireworks.
The council also found $337,430 to keep Fire Station 9 open near the International Center. The mayor said it was underused and that other west side stations could cover the territory. But the council determined it couldn't risk public safety.
An extra $30,000 was budgeted for Youth City programs on the west side. LaMalfa, the District 2 councilman, said it was a step in the right direction but was still short of reaching parity with east side Youth City programs.
The new budget also outlines $50,000 for sport program fees and uniforms for low-income youth.
The council set aside an additional $30,000 for the Weigand Center a day-use facility geared toward the homeless. The mayor's budget allotted it $62,000, the council upped it to $92,000. The council budgeted another $85,000 for homeless employment programs through the Downtown Alliance.
Among other things, the council's budget includes $1 million for the 3.7-mile McClelland Trail near 1100 East. The funding was championed by District 5 Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall. The funds will include lighting, signage and pedestrian upgrades.
In adopting a budget, the council set aside $6.7 million for the city's capital improvement projects for the upcoming fiscal year. The CIP budget sets out allocations for streets, parks and trails, among other items. However, the council has yet to determine a priority rating for which infrastructure projects will get funded.
Those determinations should be made by Aug. 31, according to Council Chairman Charlie Luke.
See more about comments here.