Salt Lake City may be the state's largest city, but that doesn't mean Mayor Ralph Becker has endless reserves of money with which to craft his budget recommendation each year. On the contrary, the city's population virtually doubles each day as workers commute downtown, and the city has to provide needs for those people while some of the biggest employers operate in buildings that are exempt from property taxes because they are part of government or a religion.
Added to that are the pressures felt by every city these days, with the costs of health care and fuel rising.
So it is noteworthy that Becker has proposed a $200 million general fund budget that once again holds the line on taxes. City workers would receive a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase, but departments are being asked to find 2 percent savings. The City Creek Center opened a month ago, and that is expected to provide a shot of extra sales tax revenue to city coffers. Here again, though, the good news isn't all good. State law sets a formula that provides cities with only 50 percent of the revenue generated via sales tax within that city's boundaries. Becker would like that changed to a formula that takes into account the number of people employed within the city. That would help Salt Lake City. It also would keep cities from competing so strenuously with each other to lure retail centers through tax breaks. We agree this is a good idea.
All in all, however, Becker has proposed a responsible budget for a capital city that serves as the center of commerce and the face of the state to many visitors.