Mayor Biskupski to release proposed Salt Lake City budget Monday with stand-alone plan for sales-tax increase

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski will release a $275.5 million budget proposal Monday with a separate piece describing how the city would spend an additional $25 million from a proposed half-penny city sales tax increase.

The mayor’s proposed general fund budget, which covers operational spending for the fiscal year that begins in July, would tick up by about 1 percent overall. That increase will be substantially higher if the sales tax hike goes through, as expected. The sales tax is on the City Council agenda Tuesday.

The budget proposal reflects $2 million in various departmental spending cuts, such as eliminating vacant positions. Those cuts are offset by $1.35 million more from a 7 percent rise in employee health insurance costs, and $734,000 more to cover full-year salary and benefits of employees hired over the course of the current year.

Other minor changes throughout the budget account for the overall increase.

“It’s basically flat,” said the mayor’s spokesman, Matt Rojas.

The city is considering a 0.5 percent sales tax increase to fund four specific initiatives: hiring more police, fixing roads, improving transit and supporting affordable housing development. If approved by the City Council, it could take effect in October, delivering an additional $25 million in revenues in its first, partial year of collection.

The city has done broad public outreach to publicize how the new sales tax revenue would be spent and to gauge and gather public reaction. Rojas said the mayor’s proposed allocations for that revenue would reflect what has been presented to the public, with adjustments to account for partial-year implementation and what projects are ready to be funded. For example, some proposed transit improvements are still being mapped out.

“With regard to the potential sales tax revenue, it will be presented in an incredibly transparent way,” Rojas said.

The mayor will present the complete budget package at a briefing Monday morning.

A related spending proposal calls for the city to seek voter approval in November for an $87 million long-term road repair bond. That is separate from the city budget. Action to schedule the referendum is pending before the City Council.