Everyone will feel the state budget cuts
Legislative budget cuts will directly affect Summit County in minor ways, but larger impacts may be seen in years to come.
When the appropriations subcommittee for economic development and revenue examined agency recommendations for 3 to 4 percent cuts on the first day of the special session Thursday, grant money for museums and the arts was on the chopping block.
While local museums and centers for the arts have already received the grant money promised them this year, and grants are never guaranteed, having less money available to apply for hurts what they do, explained Connie Nelson, executive director of the Alf Engen Ski Museum Foundation.
Making improvements to facilities dedicated to the promotion of culture is expensive, and the amount of money available for grants determines how many of those improvements can be made state-wide, she said.
Also up for slashing in that subcommittee was about $350,000 of the budget assigned to business growth, creation and recruitment. Traditionally, Summit County benefits from the promotion of tourism that money funds.
Sterling Banks, USU extension agent for Summit County, predicted that some cuts made by the natural resources appropriations subcommittee may spill down to agriculture projects here. One proposal was $40,000 from the Junior Livestock Show Association.
Summit County youth participate in an annual show in Kamas that receives funding from that allocation, he said. If there’s an across-the-board cut, the Summit participants will likely feel that.
Other cuts to the department of agriculture and food may affect how many visits wheat and hay inspectors can make to Summit farmers to either certify product or livestock scales, he said.
Utah Department of Transportation director John Njord said that cuts he was asked to make may mean a $40 million reduction in funds for road projects over the next four years.
While no current projects are pending in Summit County, that may affect any improvements required in future years. A large amount of his budget was also trimmed for making sidewalks along state roads.
Kim Wirthlin, vice president of government relations for the University of Utah was optimistic that the legislature would work out higher education cuts that would be fair, but David Pershing, senior vice president for academic affairs, was concerned that the initial requests added up to 4.9 percent slash instead of the 3 to 4 percent cuts that each agency was expecting.
The health and human services appropriations subcommittee was also required to make across-the-board cuts which may affect funding for special services in Summit County in years to come. The county health department directors were unavailable for comment.
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