Recently, I attended a hearing where county department heads explained what dire consequences awaited residents of the unincorporated area if a tax increase was not approved. Most of the explanations were purposely designed to be unacceptable, such as the Sheriff's Department. "If no additional money were received, 60 deputies and 300 school crossing guards would have to be eliminated." Public works stated that if they received no additional funds, snow would not be removed from some roads for up to a month, hindering fire, ambulance and bus service. They also listed the requirement to eliminate 1,200 street lights.
As the County Commissioners prepare voters for the next municipal tax increase with these hearings, they should consider the following alternative. Virtually everyone knows the frustration of sitting in stalled traffic caused by the I-15 reconstruction, the I-80 reconstruction, the various city road improvements or Salt Lake County's own massive road improvement program. Add to this the disruption caused by light rail and the county is nearly overwhelmed by orange traffic barriers, and the price of each project is increased accordingly as all compete for the same scarce materials, equipment and labor.There is no need for a tax increase at this time. The solution for reducing the municipal budget shortfall is for the county commissioners to declare a one-year moratorium on all further county road building/renovations and routine road work, then permit only emergency repairs to be done.
Implementing this one-year moratorium, along with showing great leadership by the commissioners, would reduce the budget shortfall and bring some much-needed relief to harassed motorists by reducing the number of orange barriers throughout the county.
Additional areas where the county can save money are in allowing private contractors to bid on the county snow removal and garbage collection contracts.
Paul D. Walker
Salt Lake City