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'It's business as usual' for Salt Lake County employees despite government shutdown

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 5:58 p.m. MDT

A child is measured by Arlene Montoya-Schouten, an office specialist at the Salt Lake County Health Department South Main WIC Clinic in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. The Salt Lake County mother is at right.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The salaries of some 343 employees of Salt Lake County are paid with partial support of the federal government, but no one's position is at risk in the wake of the government shutdown.

The federal government contributes $309,010 a week toward salaries in six departments of county government, Jill Carter, director of the Department of Administrative Services, told the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday.

The county health department and aging services receive most of that funding, but salaries in youth services, community resources and development, and behavioral health are also funded with federal money to varying degrees.

One position in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office is entirely funded with federal funds, but the position will not be adversely affected.

"No county positions at the moment are in jeopardy because of funding," Carter said.

The affected departments receive between 1 percent and 100 percent of their funding from federal coffers. Most of those departments — with the exception of the Women, Infant and Children nutrition program, which has state funds through October — are funded through December.

Most agencies within county government receive no federal funding.

"For the most part, it's business as usual," said Lori Bays, director of the county's Department of Human Services.

The state of Utah has funded WIC clinics through October, and there is funding for food vouchers to mid-November.

"There are no immediate impacts. We anticipate going on through the end of the year," Bays said.

Hopefully, the impasse in Congress will be resolved well before then, she said.

While the report was good news, County Council Chairman Steve DeBry introduced the draft of an ordinance he described as a "game plan" for the council to follow in the event of an unforeseen reduction in revenue or other event that would require the council to make an emergency appropriation or funding shift.

"I hate managing by crisis. I hate being behind the curve," DeBry said. "Given that there have been 17 shutdowns of the federal government in the past 40 years, I believe the county needs to have a plan to address the problems Washington creates."

But others on the council, including Jim Bradley, questioned the need for a formal policy.

Councilman Mike Jensen said the council, as the legislative body, controls the budget and can make adjustments as needed.

DeBry pulled the proposal from the county's agenda Tuesday but said he will work to craft an ordinance that addresses unforeseen loss of revenue.

"We need a plan. In case something happens, we know how the gears mesh," he said.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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