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Officials cut ’09 budget

Officials aim to trim county budgets with a scalpel, not a hatchet.

And gone next year from Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott’s wish list is a pedestrian trail along Highland Drive from Old Ranch Road to Silver Summit Parkway.

The project costs about $510,000, which is needed elsewhere as departments tighten their belts amid the toughest economy the government has experienced in decades.

"I feel very badly for them because it’s a very dangerous place," Elliott said at budget talks Monday.

But there are very few sidewalks in unincorporated Summit County, Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier replied.

Meanwhile, tax revenue that is static has also forced the delay of $250,000 in improvements to Old Ranch Road.

But nearly all of the $8 million in road improvements in Summit County this year occurred on Landmark Drive with realignment of the busy road at Kimball Junction.

"The biggest share of the roads [in eastern Summit County] are a lot older than those on the West Side," Frazier said.

But Snyderville Basin residents "really expect a greater, higher level of service," Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer stressed.

Next year officials hope to complete a connector road parallel to State Road 224 between Olympic Parkway and the new traffic circle at Kimball Junction.

The public works budget for Summit County tops $14 million, which could be pared by eliminating the department’s newly created deputy administrator post, Summit County Commissioner Ken Woolstenhulme said.

Rick Dunford receives a salary of more than $73,000 in the position.

"I think that should be taken out, and this is the time right now to eliminate this position," Woolstenhulme said.

But Elliott and Richer indicated they will vote to fund the post through 2009.

Keeping next year’s nearly $47 million budget lean means hiring no new county employees, officials say about a hiring freeze.

How to fund nonprofits?

Despite budget cuts, several nonprofits in Summit County will receive funds from the government in 2009.

Recycle Utah, Peace House, Mountainlands Community Housing Trust, Eccles Center for the Performing Arts, Habitat for Humanity and People’s Health Clinic are among groups slated to receive tax dollars.

"What is the philosophy on who we are willing to fund?" Summit County Councilman-elect John Hanrahan asked. "You could get tomorrow, another 100 nice nonprofits asking for this money."

The county contributes to groups providing services the government would otherwise have to supply, Richer said.

"This is not a granting process, nor a formal grant thing," Elliott explained.

Health budget includes air testing

Though next year’s Summit County Health Department budget will decrease, funds are available to operate equipment in western Summit County to permanently test the air quality, Health Department Director Steve Jenkins said.

Construction of a new building for the health department at Quinn’s Junction and renovations at the Summit County Courthouse will proceed next year, but several other capital projects are on standby.

A top priority is completing the reconstruction of Landmark Drive. Next could be road improvements in Hoytsville and Jeremy Ranch.

"There is very little actually to whine about in this budget," Elliott said. "It’s all very understandable."

The public can weigh in at a budget hearing scheduled Dec. 10 at the County Courthouse in Coalville.


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