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South Salt Lake Journal

Proposed budget’s primary objectives include neighborhoods, walkability and infrastructure; comes with tax hikes

May 30, 2022 05:41PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

As part of the FY2023 budget cycle, Mayor Cherie Wood presented her budget to the City Council on May 11. Now Wood, along with the City Council work together to approve a budget by June 30 or not.

"The final draft will be a collaborative effort combining input from our community, staff, and City Council. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to do what's best for South Salt Lake," said Councilchair Sharla Bynum.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for June 8 at 7:30 pm.

"We are indeed a small city with big-city issues,” Wood said. “Our infrastructure is aging, our public safety needs are increasing, and the need to retain quality employees is essential to our City's success. Our neighborhoods are in need of investment and improvements. All these items are funded in our municipal annual budget. I encourage residents to contact me or their City Council Representatives with their ideas, concerns, and questions."

The budget and the Strategic plan

Crystal Makin, director of finance, tied budget highlights to the city's strategic plan in her presentation to the council. Under the three key initiatives, Makin outlined six objectives.

Objective one is to ensure safe, vibrant, and equitable neighborhoods by

·         Creating the Homeless Strategies Department

·         Increase funding for property abatement to secure vacant buildings

·         Lighting upgrades in McCall Park, Whitlock Park, Fitts Park, and Monarch Weigh Station

·         Use a grant from Wasatch Regional Council for State Street streetscape improvements

·         Hire six additional police officers

·         Add a part-time weekend code enforcement officer

·         Use funding for addressing sidewalks, curb and gutter repairs, tree trimming, and traffic calming projects.

·         Increase funding for the Arts Council

·         Funding to complete the establishment of the Community Opportunity Center (The Co-op)

·         Financing for new parks and park upgrades at six parks

 Object two is to enhance walkability and bike-ability by:

·         Continue funding for safe sidewalks

·         Fund sidewalk repair projects at Fitts Park, Bickley Park and Columbus Center

·         Funding for developing the Urban Forestry Plan and the Mill Creek Stream plan

Objective three is to ensure SSL has quality infrastructure by:

·         Constructing a new well at 700 East. This will be funded with a loan from the Department of Water Resources. This requires a rate increase of $1 to pay back the loan.

·         Continue funding for Central Valley Reclamation Facility expansion project. A loan was obtained to pay for SSL's assessment, but now it is time to repay the loan requiring a $1 basic rate increase.

·         Increase the funds for garbage/recycling carts

·         Increase the garbage/recycling cart replacement fee

·         Increase the rental cost of the roll-off dumpster

·         Increase the budget because of increases in waste collection contract

·         Establish a stormwater utility fund by implementing a $6 Equivalent Residential Unit. The unit is defined as the amount of nonporous surfaces of a typical home. Most residents will pay $6.

·         Budgeting $3.5 million for land acquisition, engineering, legal, and plat vacating costs for an expanded Public Works Campus

Objective four is to address the supply of affordable housing. Currently, this one is still developing, and there are no budget impacts.

Objective five is to enhance green space and parks by:

·         Adding a part-time Parks Project Manager

·         Funding for a new dog park

·         Funding to design a new skate park

Objective six is to retain quality employees by:

·         Funding market adjustments which were highlighted in a citywide salary survey

·         Increase funding for training in several departments

·         Funding for improving facilities

·         Increase employer match in 401(k) to 3%

·         Rebalance sundry funding across all departments for better equity

·         Update health insurance plan

·         Increase salaries for all employees

o   Implement a Public Service Special (PSS) Revenue Fund, which means all funds in the PSS must be used for public safety purposes. An increase in property taxes will pay for this.

o   Increase sworn officers with a 3% cola and a two-step merit increase resulting in an 11% increase

o   Make civilian employee's wages competitive with a 3% cola and step merit increase resulting in a total of 6% increase

o   Fund one deputy director and Promise SSL Business Manager

The mayor is proposing an $86,429,762 budget, which is an increase from FY2022.

Timothy Webb of local political action committee POET offered a response, "A 45% increase in the city budget, shortly after raising taxes with the Storm Water Fee and giving themselves raises."

Rate increases

The mayor's budget contained several rate increases.

·         PSS funding required a 0.001029 or 0.1029% property increase. On a $400,000 home, the levy will be $226 a year or $19 a month.

·         Stormwater utility fee of $6

·         700 East well loan payment of $1 for each tier

·         CVWRF loan payment of $1

"Residents should expect slight increases in water and sewer rates, a new stormwater utility fee, and a new Public Safety Service Special Revenue Fund (PSS) on our property taxes. The combined increases will be approximately $29 per month for most residents. It's time we prioritize infrastructure and public safety in our community," Bynum said.


The primary source of revenue for the city is sales tax. The current rate is 7.45% on goods and services. SSL receives 1.20% of the 7.45% rate. They also receive 0.25% for transportation infrastructure. These specific funds go into the Capital Improvement Fund. Sales tax is projected to continue to increase. The five principle sales taxpayers are Tesla Motors, RC Willey Home Furnishings, Mark Miller Subaru, Salt Lake Valley Chrysler/Jeep, and Border States Industries.

The following source is property tax. Property tax is an Ad Valorem tax levied against the property's taxable value. In other words, property tax is only levied against a portion of the total value of the property. Forty-five percent of a property's fair market value is not taxed. This leaves 55%. Receivers of property tax break down to 61.72% for schools, 17.24% for Salt Laake County, 13.34% for South Salt Lake, 4.12% for the library, and 3.58% for utilities. It is estimated that of a $2,533 tax bill based on a $400,000 home, SSL receives $338.

Salt Lake County calculates the Certified Tax Rate for each taxing entity each year. The idea behind the Certified Tax Rate is to maintain an inverse relationship to property tax values. Simply said, as property value goes up, the tax rate goes down. So, in theory, without new construction, this method of taxation yields approximately the same amount of tax revenue each year.

The city staff proposes to reject the 2022 Certified Tax Rate and maintain the current property tax rate of 0.1536%.

"This is an important step to combat the shrinking revenues that are predicted for current and future years and allow property tax revenues to maintain pace with the expenditures that it pays for," Makin said.

A Truth in Taxation public hearing must be held if the city rejects the Certified Tax Rate and implements the PSS. This changes the balanced budget due date to Aug. 31. The suggested plan is to have the City Council reject the Certified Tax Rate and vote to operate with an interim budget in June. Public notices are posted in July. The Truth in Taxation public hearing is held in early August, potentially Aug. 3. The City Council has to the end of the month to pass a balanced budget and submit it to the state.

Markin's complete presentation, including budget lines, is available on the city's website under the Finance Department.