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South Salt Lake Journal

City’s $106-million budget focuses on long-range planning, public safety

Jul 07, 2023 10:58AM ● By Zak Sonntag

The South Salt Lake City Council in June passed its fiscal year 2024 budget, which includes funding to expand the Promise program, increase affordable housing, invest in public safety along with a series of infrastructure related capital improvements.

The budget comes in at $106 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1, a significant increase from previous years that chips away at the fund balance. Despite the imposing price tag, the mayor’s office says frugality and smart money management in previous years affords the city leeway to make investments in the future.

“The biggest lift you’ll see in this year’s budget is in capital improvements. So many of our facilities need attention. So many of our [police and public service] vehicles need attention and require too much to be maintained,” said Mayor Cherie Wood, whose office oversees the budget process, during a budget hearing in spring. 

This budget “is about long-range planning and an eye on our city’s future,” she said.

Some of the budget’s more costly initiatives include a $3.4-million reconstruction of 500 West, along with a $2-million State Street Streetscape project that aims to beautify and increase the walkability of the central thoroughfare. 

Additionally, the budget includes spending on water projects, most expensively the construction of a new $10-million water well, which city leaders say is critical to the long-term health and safety of South Salt Lake.

The plan also includes $400,000 for biking infrastructure.

Despite big price tags, many of the capital improvements are underwritten by outside grant funding. For instance, 85% of the cost of the new water well will be covered by “loan-proceeds” awarded to the city.  

“Even though the number looks big and scary, it's funded a lot through sources that are not dollars out of our residents’ pockets,” said Crystal Makin, the city’s director of finance.

The budget reflects public interest in improved public safety. New money is allocated for the creation of a new full-time parking enforcement officer, an emergency management officer, records technician and code enforcement supervisor.

Spending includes $1.4 million is allocated for police and fire vehicle replacement. 

“This is the No. 1 priority that our council and residents identify time and time again,” Makin said. “This is the first phase of getting us caught up to make sure our police are as safe as the people they are seeking to protect.” 

The budget aims to mitigate the effects of homelessness with $240,000 allocated to the city’s Homelessness Strategies Department, which will administer over $3 million in additional state and federal funds awarded to the city to help address short- and long-term needs related to unsheltered populations and impacted neighborhoods.  

The FY24 budget creates a new Housing Coordinator position, while setting aside money to draft a citywide affordable housing plan.

The legislation also includes money to expand the dog park at Lions Park, 311 E. Robert Ave., as well as half a million dollars for the design and construction of a new skatepark on Main Street. 

Speaking on the point of grant money, Wood tipped her cap to city employees and department heads who aggressively pursue outside money.

“We’ve had people who’ve worked here long enough to know the funding sources that are out there, and we’ve developed relationships,” Wood said. “People like what we’re doing here.” λ