Budget season starts with council looking at stormwater fees, tiller fire truckMar 30, 2021 11:20AM ● By Bill Hardesty
Expansion of the Public Works campus is being discussed during South Salt Lake City Council work on the FY 2022 budget. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)
By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]
Budget season has started early for the fiscal year 2022. According to state law, cities must submit a balanced budget to the state by Jun. 30. Under South Salt Lake City Council Chair Sharla Bynum's direction, the council is starting to list and prioritize budget priorities.
Resident input is encouraged by contacting council members directly or using the Our Next Move website (sslournextmove.org).
City Council work so far
In the Feb. 10 City Council work meeting, each council member provided a list of their 2022 priorities. Among the priorities listed were a Stormwater Utility Fee, a fully funded Civilian Review Board (CRB), speeding on Millcreek Way, a tiller fire truck, better street lighting, a Public Works campus, an appropriate pay increase for city employees, high-speed internet, Promise SSL, and the arts. There was a total of 29 items listed.
Lindsey Ferrari, a partner at Wilkinson Ferrari & Co., along with Hillary Robinson, captured the lists. Wilkinson Ferrari & Co. is a public relations firm often used by SSL. They combined the lists and asked each council member to choose their top three.
They collected the votes and assigned a number to each vote. Number one received three points. A No. 2 received two points, and a No. 3 received one point.
Chairperson Bynum voiced a common comment that it was hard to choose three.
At the March 10 work meeting, the scores were revealed.
- Stormwater Utility Fee (11 points)
- Tiller fire truck (6 points)
- Public works (5 points)
- Police/Crime prevention (5 points)
- Street lighting (5 points)
- Employee raises (3 points)
- CRB partially funded (3 points)
- Parking enforcement (2 points)
- Recreation Center (1 point)
- Speeding on Millcreek Way (1 point)
Compare this list to the order of priorities in the Community Values Survey conducted by Y2 Analytics. Residents answered the question, "Which of the following projects should South Salt prioritize for the future?"
- More safe places to walk and bike (58% favorable)
- New recreation center (41% favorable)
- New senior center (23% favorable)
- New public computer lab (23% favorable)
- Other (20% favorable)
- New city hall (8% favorable)
- None of the above (7% favorable)
For the rest of the meeting, council members discussed the priorities.
Stormwater utility fee
Bynum mentioned that the utility fee should have passed years ago. Ray deWolfe, councilmember at-large, commented that SSL is the only city that doesn't have a stormwater utility fee.
"We are leaving money on the table by having no fee," deWolfe said.
Shane Siwik, District 5, pointed out that a stormwater utility fee must be used for stormwater projects. However, the fee would free up General Funds for other priorities such as employee pay increases.
Natalie Pinkney, councilmember at-large, described passing the utility fee as a win-win situation.
The council also discussed other priorities, such as a tiller fire truck. This opened the door for Fire Chief Terry Addison to explain again why a tiller truck is essential.
He reminded the council that the fleet of SSL fire trucks is aging. He mentioned that recently two trucks were in the shop, including the ladder truck. The repair bill for both trucks was around $400,000.
Addison also pointed out that if SSL's ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating, used to measure a fire department against their standards, goes higher, homeowner's insurance policies will go up. The lower the score, the better.
"SSLFD received a three, but it may go up if we don't replace some of our equipment," Addison said.
Another priority discussed was setting money aside to buy property when it becomes available for an enlarged Public Works campus.
The next action is for city staff to present their priority list to the council in late April or May.
Since last July, the City Council has worked hard hammering out an ordinance to create the Civilian Review Board. However, when they started to look at budget implications, the process slowed.
As reported in a City Journal article in December, deWolfe estimated the startup cost could be on the plus side of $500,000 with an annual cost of $300,000.
Mayor Cherie Wood suggested that staff could take a second look at the numbers. Also, Siwik suggested at the Feb. 10 meeting to postpone passing the ordinance until the FY2022 budget is passed.
This suggestion made Pinkney ask, "When we talk about going slower on this ordinance are we really not serious about the issue?"
In the Feb. 24 council meeting, Bynum, who is shepherding the ordinance, suggested without debate to wait until the budget is discussed. The ordinance was moved to a future meeting before June 30.