Dead animals along roads may not be picked up as quickly, grass there may grow longer and some old snowplows won’t be replaced — but lawmakers approved such transportation cutbacks Thursday to help cover expected tax revenue losses from COVID-19 economic hits.
The Legislature has asked state departments to come up with ways to cut 2%, 5% or 10% from their budgets, and an appropriations subcommittee on Thursday endorsed a plan from the Utah Department of Transportation that could cut up to $5 million from its operations budgets as needed.
UDOT Deputy Director Terri Newell said none of the cuts should compromise public safety. “We put safety as our No. 1 priority,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure we can keep the traveling public safe.”
Some of the line items in the plan for possible operations cuts include:
• Reducing carcass pickup, litter removal and lawn mowing, plus delaying the opening of seasonal roads to potentially save up to $2 million.
• Delaying plans to buy three replacement snowplows, saving $675,000.
• Reducing state support for a Utah Transit Authority alternative fuels facility by up to $661,300.
• Cutting by $200,000 a program to identify surplus UDOT property to sell. UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras said that program found $30 million of surplus property last year but the agency likely already has found all the “big, juicy” properties it could likely sell.
• Saving $70,000 by no longer offering UTA transit passes to UDOT employees.
• Cutting travel and support for the Utah Transportation Commission by $62,600.
• Reducing hours for incident management team patrols — the trucks that help direct traffic around accidents — to save $25,000.
• Cutting back on grounds maintenance at UDOT buildings to save up to $50,000.
• Delaying planned computer replacement to save $60,000.
• Reducing project planning and support by up to $213,000.