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Corroon proposes 'measured, prudent budget'

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 27 2010 12:26 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon proposed a "measured, prudent budget" to the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday, a financial plan for 2011 that requires no tax or fee increase. The $636 million proposal would provide a modest pay increase to county employees, who in the past two years have endured hiring freezes, two rounds of early retirement offers and a reduction in salaries and benefits.

"We refused to cower in the shadows of the recession. The future doesn't wait; so we chose to be prepared for it, even though that meant making tough decisions," Corroon said.

After two years of concerted belt-tightening measures to weather the downturned economy — and corresponding reductions in tax revenues — Corroon said the financial picture appears to be improving. "We anticipate some modest revenue growth in 2011. We are hopeful, but we are maintaining a conservative approach," he said.

Through careful planning, Corroon said, the proposed budget absorbs the costs of seven new facilities — recreation centers, branch libraries and new senior centers. "We're working harder and working better, which has enabled us to provide expanded services to a growing population."

Darrin Casper, the county's chief financial officer, said most departmental budget requests were flat or included modest increases, largely due to the proposed 1 percent across-the-board pay raise, as well as a 1 percent increase to the county's contribution to employees' 401(k)s during 2011, revenues permitting. The 2010 county's budget included a 2.75 percent cut in employee salaries and elimination of the 3 percent county match on 401(k) contributions.

Casper said administrative decisions and actions by the County Council since 2009 have achieved some $60 million in savings. Some of those efficiencies were achieved by postponing purchases and cutting the equivalent of 152 full-time positions.

While residents of the unincorporated county will continue to receive bills to offset the county's share of the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area budget, fees assessed to households or businesses would be somewhat reduced under Corroon's plan to increase the county's contract with the service area by $500,000.

The Salt Lake County Council is scheduled to adopt the county budget on Dec. 7.

e-mail: marjorie@desnews.com

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