SALT LAKE CITY — In a budget year with about $25 million more thanks to a recently passed 0.5 percent sales tax hike, the Salt Lake City Council on Tuesday finalized the city's $301 million 2018-19 budget with few changes to the mayor's recommendations.
The adopted budget includes the same breakdown for the new sales tax revenue proposed by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski: about $7.1 million for streets and infrastructure; nearly $6 million for public safety, including $2.2 million for 27 police officers; nearly $5.3 million for transit projects; and more than $4.1 million for affordable housing initiatives. The rest would be held in reserves.
"We are committed to tackling bedrock issues with this budget," Council Chairwoman Erin Mendenhall said in a prepared statement issued after the vote. "The budget funds many needed services and projects, and it works in concert with a possible fall bond vote that would fund major repairs to our road system."
That possible bond vote is next on the City Council's list to consider placing on the November ballot to help fund street reconstruction.
Biskupski didn't attend Tuesday night's meeting, but her deputy chief of staff, David Litvack, applauded the City Council for passing the budget.
"This is just another example of how the administration and the council work well together," Litvack said.
The budget approval came despite protests from a group of about a dozen people from Utahns Against Police Brutality, who held a rally on the steps of the Salt Lake City-County building prior to Tuesday's council meeting to protest the hiring of 27 more police officers.
"Instead of hiring 27 more cops, why don't we put a drug rehab center in Glendale or Rose Park?" Carlos Martinez asked the council prior to the vote. "Get to the real heart of the issue. You think the heart of the issue for crime and drugs is because of lack of police? No, it's because of poverty. It's because of lack of access to resources."
Several more protestors urged city officials to not hire more police, but the City Council moved forward with the budget as proposed. That's despite some council members' previous misgivings with Biskupski not funding the full 50 officers the council previously hoped to hire, though Biskupski and her staff has said she still intends to fund all 50 in future budget years.
Still, the council proceeded with the budget mostly as-is, though they did make some changes or added some specific requests.
Those included some objectives for the $5.3 million for transit funding.1 comment on this story
The council will need to approve an interlocal agreement between the city and Utah Transit Authority to implement enhanced routes for increased coverage in underserved areas, particularly the west side; increase ridership, particularly in the city's downtown core; built out infrastructure on the city's Transit Master Plan routes; and to budget and plan a timeline for service on 1000 North, 600 North, 200 South, 900 South and 2100 South, with 400 South to be implemented last.
Other changes included an additional $2 million to about $1 million previously budgeted to reconstruct 300 West from 600 South to 2100 South in order to bring the city's match to $3 million to qualify for a $12 million federal grant.
They also included an additional $150,000 to hire two new full-time fire department employees.