Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon's proposed 2008 budget is one he calls a "lean mean, fat-reducing, grilling machine."
Corroon cut $28.5 million worth of requests to end up with an $811 million budget, unveiled Tuesday, that "meets our most fundamental responsibilities to enhance public safety, strengthen our economy, protect our environment and improve our quality of life." And it includes no tax increase.
The proposed 2008 budget, which could change after the Salt Lake County Council gets its hands on it, includes funding for several new environmental initiatives and new county facilities.
The budget includes $60 million to build three new senior centers, four libraries and a public works administration building. The $7.4 million public works building will replace the "unsafe structure that puts employees and the public at risk," Corroon said.
"The current building would be a pancake in the case of an emergency," Doug Willmore, the county's chief administrative officer, said of the current public works operations building in Midvale.
The budget also includes funding to expand Corroon's environmental initiatives.
The mayor wants to convert all the diesel tanks in the county's fleet to biodiesel, and place solar panels on public buildings across the county. The proposed budget also includes $5 million to install green-building infrastructure at county buildings, including energy-saving lights and insulation.
Corroon asked for $250,000 to both hire an urban forester and plant 100,000 trees as part of the county's one million trees program. Municipalities across the county are teaming up to plant 1 million trees in the next 10 years.
Corroon's wish list also included a $190,000 science exhibit at the Clark Planetarium.
But not everyone got what they wanted in the mayor's proposed budget. County departments submitted $66 million in new requests, but "there was not near as much money to go around," said Darrin Casper, the county's chief financial officer.
The biggest loser was District Attorney Lohra Miller, who asked for 40 new full-time employees and was only granted eight by the mayor. Miller said she needs more staff to be able to handle felony filings, which have risen 10 percent in the last year.
"I am concerned the mayor's recommendation fails to fully consider the dangers of leaving the DA's Office grievously understaffed," Miller said. She said she didn't ask for too much. "The budget proposed by the DA's Office represents the resources necessary to effectively prosecute the ever-increasing number of crimes being committed in our community. Anything short of those resources will greatly hinder the ability of the DA's Office to hold criminals accountable.
It wasn't all bad for the district attorney: Miller did receive funding for a community prosecution pilot program. Corroon also gave the green-light for six new full-time employees to personally deliver subpoenas that Miller promises will result in decreased case dismissal rates.
And Corroon shot down Sheriff Jim Winder's proposal to re-open the Oxbow Jail. Winder wanted to open the shuttered jail to relieve overcrowding issues at the Salt Lake County jail.
The mayor did, however, budget $610,000 to "modernize" the Oxbow Jail. The money will be used to bring the jail back to tip-top shape in case the county needs to open the jail in the near future.
"It's a big value to the county as a safety valve," Willmore said. "We want to make sure it's ready to open."
Winder said he was shocked that Corroon didn't include funding to open the Oxbow Jail.
"I'm a little chagrined it isn't occurring, or isn't at least right now," Winder said. However, Winder admitted that he is making headway in convincing county officials to open the jail.The mayor did approve 22 new deputies to patrol across the county, including 3 in the Magna/Kearns precinct the first such staffing increase in that precinct since 1987.
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