Salt Lake County commissioners are due to get their first look Monday at specific 1989 budget projections reflecting the potential impact of the tax-limitation initiatives that will appear on the November ballot.
And while commissioners won't make the projections public until they've had a chance to study the numbers, it can be assumed the cuts would have a drastic effect on some county services and programs, says county budget director Nelson G. Williams.County employees concerned for their jobs are asking how many workers might be laid off should the initiatives pass. No one has an answer to that question yet, Williams said. But there is no doubt the cuts would include some layoffs.
"There is no way to figure force reductions right now," Williams said. "We're working on those figures, and the commission will have them next week."
The Utah Tax Commission earlier this year estimated the county's $270 million budget would be slashed by $39 million, or 14.5 percent, should one of the initiatives - one that caps all property taxes at 1 percent of fair market value, or three-quarters of 1 percent for residential property - receive voter approval.
But the effect of that budget cut would be much greater than a simple 14.5 percent reduction, Nelson said. The $39 million figure represents more than half of the county's property tax revenue, and such a drastic cut would hit hardest those programs and services funded by property tax collections.
The county's non-tax revenues - such as federal grants, payments received from contracts to provide services for other government entities and services fees collections - would not be affected by the tax cap.
And because those non-tax revenues are dedicated to the funding of specific programs and services and can't be spent on other uses, that money cannot be diverted to other areas to soften the impact of necessary belt-tightening should the tax cap become law, Williams said.
The effect of the potential revenue loss on the budgets of specific county departments and programs has not been calculated until now.
Last month, Commission Chairman Bart Barker sent a memo to all county elected officials, division directors and department heads asking them to prepare budget cuts that could be put into effect in case the property tax cap initiative should pass.