Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon ordered a hiring freeze Tuesday, a move he attributed to the rising cost of fuel and food.

Not all future new hires will be nixed, however. Corroon ordered a so-called soft hiring freeze and will examine all new hires individually to see if the position is really needed.

"We feel it's time for us to start tightening the belt and looking a little more closely at what we're doing," Corroon said.

The budget is bleak. County number crunchers estimate Salt Lake County could lose $5.3 million in sales tax revenue by year's end. The county does have a higher-than-expected $10 million set aside in cash reserves, however.

The freeze affects only the six departments in the mayor's portfolio, but both Corroon and County Council Chairman Michael Jensen urged the eight independent elected officials to follow suit.

"We want everybody to really take a hard look at all of their personnel, if they are needed or if they can do without," Jensen said.

Corroon hopes the freeze will save 1 percent to 5 percent in personnel costs.

The county is in the middle of midyear budget adjustments, a time government officials typically ask for more money or more employees to make up for what they forgot to ask for six months before.

But this year, those requests are generally nowhere to be seen. That's in step with a resolution the council passed in December asking county leaders to only make technical adjustments to the budget this June.

The mayor did ask for a few things — $65,000 for refugee housing, $149,000 for two new employees in the Legal Defenders Office to represent death penalty defendants, and $334,000 to cover rising rent and health benefit costs at the Emergency Operations Center.

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