County commissioners are praising Salt Palace management and members of the Salt Palace and Fine Arts Advisory Board for slashing the amount Salt Lake County paid last year to subsidize Salt Palace operations.

The county paid a Salt Palace subsidy of about $153,000 in 1987. That compares to the $964,000 that had been budgeted for that expenditure.County commissioners credited efficient management, cost control measures and increased revenues for the reduction. It was the lowest subsidy paid since the county took management control of the Salt Palace in 1981, Commission Chairman Bart Barker said.

The county historically has needed to provide a subsidy amounting to about 20 percent of the Salt Palace operating budget, Barker said. But the 1987 subsidy amounted to just 3 percent of the facility's spending.

If spending on capital improvements were not counted, the Salt Palace would have operated in the black last year.

"This is the only facility of its kind in the country to come so close to running in the black," Commissioner Mike Stewart said. "Others that do run in the black have dedicated revenue streams, like mill levies, to fund them. But the Salt Palace doesn't."

The subsidy information was reported in the recently released county comprehensive annual financial report for 1987. While the county sets its spending plan each December for the following year, the report - issued each June or July - details how much the county actually spent during the preceding year.