Salt Lake City Council Chairman Tom Godfrey credits the ugly "v word," as in Mayor Palmer DePaulis' veto, with helping the council adopt a city budget.
On its second try, the council approved Monday afternoon a $79.7 million general fund budget for fiscal 1988-89. The budget includes $300,000 to be doled out as bonuses to city employees, and a property tax hike that averages $4.12 on a $70,000 home, with $3.44 earmarked for the city library system.By state law, the council has until Wednesday to adopt a fiscal plan for the city, but the body hurried to approve the budget before Councilwoman Florence Bittner departed for vacation early Tuesday.
Mayor Palmer DePaulis stole time away from playing host at the U.S. Conference of Mayors to listen as the council formally adopted motions worked out in a lengthy compromise summit Sunday.
"I just want to congratulate the council on the work you've done and how we were able to work together and compromise," DePaulis said.
Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck said she was grateful the council had reached an agreement. "We came up with a little something for employees, but I'm not sure it was worth it," she said.
Council members asked the mayor to come up with a plan to dole out employee bonuses, while reserving the right to add their own stamp of approval. If the amount is split evenly, each city employee should receive $200.
On Thursday, DePaulis vetoed a budget approved by a 4-3 council vote that filled a $419,846 chasm with across-the-board cuts of city departments, in order to find $600,000 to grant city employees merit raises. He also vetoed a plan pushed by Councilman Alan Hardman to cut the $4 monthly garbage fee to $3 a month beginning in January 1989.
The council needed a 5-2 majority to override the mayor's veto, but three council members, Godfrey, Fonnesbeck and Roselyn Kirk, said they wouldn't approve across-the-board cuts. City Attorney Roger Cutler earlier questioned the constitutionality of such blind cuts, saying the council was abdicating its authority to appropriate city funds by throwing it back to the mayor.
DePaulis' original proposed budget included several controversial facets, such as no employee raises, cutting the crime prevention and crime analysis units of the Police Department and closing one east-side fire station while another is built.
The final budget approved Monday funds the $190,000 crime-prevention unit, but cuts the $69,000 crime-analysis unit.
Councilman Wayne Horrocks, who resigned from the crime prevention unit when he took his council seat in January, urged the council to find funds to restore the $190,000 program. Councilwoman Roselyn Kirk, who represents the city's east-bench neighborhoods, led the fight to keep both the University of Utah and the Foothill Drive fire stations open at least six months, until an upper Avenues station is constructed.
The council's earlier budget had slashed departmental travel and training budgets by 25 percent to 50 percent, cuts that DePaulis called arbitrary. Monday, the council approved consistent 20 percent cuts to the travel budgets and managers' car allowances. Also approved was a compromise plan to delay two capital improvement projects for a savings of $100,000, construction of a parking lot at Riverside Park and landscaping vacant land for a future recreation center off Sunnyside Drive.
If the city's revenue picture looks better in six months, those capital improvement projects could be restored, Kirk said.