The Davis County Commission Monday approved a $41 million budget for 1989 that cuts 33 county jobs and will allow construction of the county's new jail and court complex with only a slight tax increase.
Commissioners estimate the owner of a $70,000 home will pay an additional $19 in property taxes next year under the new budget.Commissioner Harold Tippetts said the 33 jobs are spread throughout the county's departments and most are jobs that have not been filled as vacancies developed under the county's hiring freeze policy.
The county had to make cuts, ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 per department, to make up for the loss of $1.5 million in federal revenue-sharing money, the commissioners said.
Tippetts said the 1989 budget is $1.3 million less than last year's and $2.5 million under the initial funding requests from county department heads.
The commissioners said the budget is a response to what they perceive as a mandate from taxpayers to cut taxes, expressed through the tax initiatives on the November ballot.
The commission is also trying to soften the effect of an $18 million bond issue approved in 1987 to build the county's new 400-bed jail and court complex west of Farmington. Site-preparation work is being done now by the county's public works employees and construction contracts will be awarded next spring, with a mid-1990 completion date.
Instead of adding the cost of the bonds on top of the county's tax rate, the commissioners decided to reduce the county's general fund mill levy to soften the impact.
But that decision brought a protest from Steve Romney, a Davis health board member, and mental health board member Mary Ellen Latham. Both said cuts required by the commission will severely affect the level of service their departments can provide.
Romney repeated charges he made last week in the health board meeting that the county is building its new jail at the expense of the health and welfare of county residents.
And the health department's increasing reliance on fees for its services to generate revenue is little more "than a back-door tax increase," Romney said.
Latham said an $80,000 cut in the mental health department's budget will require the layoff of two clinical specialists when the county is facing an increased, not decreased, demand on its counseling and treatment services.
William "Dub" Lawrence, who takes office in January as a county commissioner after defeating Tippetts in the November election, said he spent 12 hours studying the figures and charged the budget is not balanced.
Lawrence said the county will spend more in 1989 than it will receive in taxes and "figures have been juggled, the jail bond money has been used to hide a tax increase."
Budget officer Lamar Holt responded that the county will spend more than it receives, relying on existing surpluses and fund balances in some departments. But the budget, Holt said, is balanced.
Utah Taxpayers Association representative Howard Stevenson, generally a severe critic of budgets and government spending, complimented the commission on its spending plan for next year.
Anticipating the upcoming budget cuts, the county imposed a hiring freeze Aug. 30. Most of the 33 full-time jobs have already been eliminated through attrition, according to the county, but up to three full-time and five or six part-time employees will still be cut to meet the quota.