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South Salt Lake Journal

With no opposition, South Salt Lake passes budget

Jul 06, 2020 11:31AM ● By Bill Hardesty

In a virtual meeting, South Salt Lake City Council passed fiscal year 2021 budget without any tussles. Photo was taken at a previous meeting. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Maybe it is the reality of the times or maybe it is a new city council or maybe it’s because it was a virtual city council meeting or maybe a bit of all three. Whatever the reasons, the fiscal year 2021 budget discussions and actions were quite different than last year.

At the June 3 public hearing about the budget no one spoke. Last year, people lined up to voice their support or disagreement. 

This year, everything has been civil and respectful.

“Congratulations. We passed a budget in a pandemic and virtually,” said Council Chair Sharla Bynum, Council Chair.

At the May 27 work meeting, Mayor Cherie Wood answered questions submitted by councilmembers.

The questions ranged from why the tuition reimbursement budget line has increased (more employees are seeking it) to why are the police and fire departments larger than other cities the size of SSL (both agencies have to cover the day population which significantly increases) to what happens to unspent FY 2020 funds (for the most part, each budget year stands alone. On rare occasions some funds might need to move to the next year budget. Any savings goes into the Fund Balance).

There was little discussion about the answers and the council moved to other business.

In the following regular meeting, the council decided to move the City Council Professional Services funds ($17,000) to the City Attorney’s Office. A few years ago, the City Council took the money from the City Attorney’s office when they decided they needed to retain outside counsel.

At the June 3 City Council meeting, the council took no actions regarding the budget since there was no participation in the public hearings. 

Kyle Kershaw, South Salt Lake City finance director, did give an update on some items that will require funds to be moved from FY 2020 to FY 2021 in the Capital Fund.

Kershaw also mentioned the state’s requirement that Tier 2 Public Safety employees, which are those hired after 2010, receive an increase to their retirement system estimated to be a 4.27% increase. According to the state, cities must pay at least 2% of the 4.27%. Cities could ask employees to contribute the 2.27%.

SSL has decided to pay the entire 4.27%. The City Council felt this a nice gesture in the wake of no pay increases in FY 2021.

This increase is already in the proposed budget.

June 17 City Council meeting

With little fanfare, the FY 2021 budget passed by the City Council. The budget includes moving $4.3 million from Fund Balance, which is the city’s saving account. 

For planning purposes, the city used a 25% decrease in sales tax revenue, but it could be higher or lower. The city projects a $5.2 million dollar decrease in revenue, including $2.1 million in sales tax, $300,000 in energy sales/use tax, $375,000 in building permits, which has been a cash cow for the city in the past few years, and $400,000 in state homeless mitigation funds. 

The passed General Fund budget is approximately $630,000 less than the current FY 2020 budget. Across all the funds, the FY 2021 budget total is $53,374,505 compared to the adopted FY 2020 budget of $53,594,480—almost a $22,000 reduction.

Like other cities, residents have voiced concerns about the police department budget. Wood answered the concerns by explaining there were three drivers for the increase in the police budget over the last couple of years.

“The HRC mitigation, raises for officers and command staff, and the opening of the new Walker Elementary school requiring additional crossing guards.,” Wood explained.