County projects layoffs next year |

County projects layoffs next year

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Three County Courthouse staffers would be laid off under a spending plan submitted to the Summit County Council this month, a striking acknowledgment that the county continues to suffer amid the recession.

"There is the possibility of three positions being eliminated in the county in 2010," Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier said in a telephone interview. "There will be two in planning and building and possibly one in another department."

The County Council is scheduled to finalize next year’s budget following a public hearing Dec. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse in Coalville.

With new growth at a standstill, revenue the county receives from building fees has decreased significantly.

"We look at the number of building permits that are issued and they are not improving at all," Frazier said. "There are a lot of homes still out there for sale, and until that levels off a bit, we’re not going to see a real rosy future."

Several property-tax appeals the county stipulated to this year should not impact the budget considerably, Frazier explained.

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"Even though there are a large amount of appeals, property taxes are not going to be affected," Frazier said. "We think we are going to come in reasonably under budget (in 2009)."

But revenue from sales tax has declined due to a slowdown in tourism during the recession, he said.

"The economy is down, sales taxes are down," Frazier said.

Sales tax funds about 13 percent of the overall budget, he said.

"It is something that people from outside Summit County are paying," he said. "As sales taxes go down, property taxes are going to have to go up to make up for that difference."

Still, when compared with Salt Lake County, which is forecasting layoffs and decreases in salaries, Summit County is in strong financial shape.

"We’re able to minimize layoffs and at least hold the employees status quo on salary," Frazier said. "We’re currently in really good shape, revenues to expenditures."

Officials project a budget for Summit County for 2010 at just over $47 million, which is about a two percent decrease in spending, Frazier said.

"We’re not having to drastically cut services or people," Frazier said.

He said the government hopes to save money next year by making some employees who live outside the county pay when they are off duty and take a government vehicle past a certain distance on the county’s dime.

All sworn Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies drive their vehicles home, Frazier said.

"If you are taking a vehicle home and you live so far away from the county, you will get charged IRS rates for taking the vehicle home," Frazier said about the new policy. "It’s limiting the possibility of some take-home vehicles."

The rules reflect guidelines at several law-enforcement agencies along the Wasatch Front, Frazier said.

"I don’t necessarily agree with vehicles going to Salt Lake and Weber County and wherever," he said. "It is a deterrent to crime. It’s just not a deterrent to crime in Summit County."

Meanwhile, county officials asked department heads to reduce their 2010 operating budgets by about four percent.

"Departments came in with really, really tight budgets," Frazier said. "We’re projecting limited growth and we just don’t feel like we can stretch those dollars any farther than where we are."

Larger departments like public works, public safety and planning will experience the deepest cuts, he said.