Park City sees labor force, housing as potential budget jolts
Park City’s economy is booming as skiers and snowboarders arrive in large numbers, construction continues at a solid clip and registers at shops and restaurants ring up sales.
City Hall itself is one of the beneficiaries. The municipal budget is robust amid the upswing, providing Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council options as they prepare to craft a spending plan for the next fiscal year, which starts in July.
But even as the municipal government enjoys the bounty of the resort-driven economy, City Hall sees the possibility of high-profile issues eventually jolting the budget. Staffers provided an overview of the issues as part of the materials drafted in anticipation of the budget discussions. The talks started at a recent meeting and are scheduled to culminate with the adoption of the budget in June.
The two-page overview provides an intriguing glimpse at issues staffers see as possible threats to the budget. The issues are generally broad in nature, and many of them are regularly addressed at City Hall outside the annual budget talks. The overview describes them as “overarching issues that could result in significant budgetary impacts over the next several years” and it provides a budgetary angle on issues that normally are debated in wider terms.
“Some of the issues would be the result of factors beyond our control, such as rising health insurance and labor costs, an economic downturn, and changes to the existing tax and revenue structure by the State Legislature,” the overview says, describing that some of the challenges could result from City Hall’s own efforts toward unspecified goals.
Several of the topics are especially notable for the municipal government, with the labor force and economy listed as being critical issues. The two are closely related since the labor force is directly tied to the economy. The labor force entry outlines the challenges to City Hall rather than those to the wider business community, saying “the past two years have proven to be, arguably, our most challenging yet in terms of workforce recruitment and retention.”
“Given the current state of the Utah economy, we do not anticipate any relief in the short term,” the overview says, explaining “significant labor related challenges and shortages” continue in staffing for transit, public works, building, administrative services and legal services.
It says “the strong Wasatch Front economy and low unemployment rate will continue to present competitive challenges to (City Hall) for skilled employees that have equal or better opportunities closer to where they live.”
The economic entry in the overview indicates the recovery from the recession “has resulted in increased costs in contractual, construction, and ongoing maintenance costs.” Bidding for municipal projects has been above what City Hall budgeted, the entry says.
A statement about housing in the overview is also noteworthy at a time when City Hall is pursuing an aggressive program meant to provide options for people otherwise priced out of the market. The development of Woodside Park in the northern reaches of Old Town is one of the key projects in the municipal program.
The overview says “efforts to provide a robust and sustainable middle income, attainable, and affordable housing program within City limits remains a formidable challenge in our high performing resort community.”
“The result of our economic success and exceptional quality of life is a prohibitively high cost of living. Though several new workforce housing programs and initiatives are underway, each project comes with considerable costs, public investment, and in most cases, years to develop,” it says.
Other topics City Hall covers in the overview include:
- transportation, which covers issues like parking, transit and pedestrian-bicyclist routes. It says “the community is clearly supportive of improving the way residents and visitors move around town” as it outlines that transportation-related projects receive funds from sales taxes.
- development and infrastructure, covering City Hall projects and those pursued by the private sector. The overview mentions the possibility of development at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort in addition to planned municipal projects along the lower Park Avenue corridor, on Woodside Avenue and an arts and culture district slated for Bonanza Park.
- moves by the Legislature that could impact City Hall’s finances. The overview says “actions from the State Legislature will always pose a moderate financial risk to the City’s ability to continue to deliver high-quality services.”
“Though recent efforts to prevent unfunded mandates and efforts to adjust the redistribution of tax revenues from wealthier towns and school districts to other jurisdictions continue to be successful, these challenges remain ongoing and formidable,” it says, noting that City Hall efforts at the Statehouse will continue.
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City Hall in December posted strong sales-tax numbers, powering past projections and nearly equaling the figure from the same month in the previous year, as Park City continued to beat expectations amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus. The numbers in December show the Park City economy still was roaring during the first full month of the ski season.