The Salt Lake City Council, stalled by Mayor Palmer DePaulis' first budget veto, has asked the mayor to obtain an option on five acres of vacant land adjacent to the Police Athletic League facility.
Councilman Wayne Horrocks led the drive to cut other housing and public-service programs in order to find $135,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to purchase the vacant 5.2 acres.The mayor vetoed Horrocks' allocations, and the council was unable to get the five votes necessary to override the mayor's veto.
Obtaining a land option is a compromise the legislative and executive branches of city government can approve.
With revenues drying up, officials are looking to the last pot of federal money as means to fund some wish-list programs. Dwindling revenues are credited as the reason the city's block-grant appropriation process received so much attention this year.
The league, which Horrocks was instrumental in establishing, is targeted to provide athletic programs for high-risk youths, primarily in the city's west-side neighborhoods.
Horrocks said the land is needed to expand the league facilities and to build an adjacent parking lot.
DePaulis said he favors the program, and showed his support by already recommending more than $156,000 for its operations in his general-fund budget. But he said it isn't good public policy to buy vacant land that is unusable in its present state, at the expense of gutting other necessary programs that would benefit residents citywide.
DePaulis said he felt uncomfortable publicly discussing a purchase price for land that hasn't been appraised.
Although the mayor has the authority of a line-item veto, he doesn't have the authority to restore cuts the council has made.
From program cuts totaling more than $72,000, the council voted to put $50,000 in contingency to be allocated later. They also agreed to restore $20,000 of the "found" money to a new program established this year to clean and board-up vacant properties.
The city received a $3.8 million federal allocation this year, said Stephanie Loker, community development planner.
Horrocks originally proposed a dozen cuts to come up with $135,000 for the property. But he was able to gain support of a council majority on only seven of them, totaling $72,000.