Summit County Council approves 10 new employees as part of the 2019 budget
December 15, 2018
Summit County will add 10 new employees next year, including the Sheriff's Office, in an effort to address growing workloads within various departments.
Elected officials agreed to the hiring of new employees on Wednesday when they unanimously approved next year's budget, two weeks ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline. The $55.7 million operating budget features a 2.5 percent increase over the 2018 adopted budget and includes $28.4 million specifically earmarked for capital projects.
However, the spending hike does not require a tax increase, something County Council Chair Kim Carson wanted to emphasize when discussing the increase in staff levels.
"We are doing this within our current defined revenue," she said. "We have been successful in obtaining grants for a lot of that revenue, and we try to do that at every opportunity whether it's for transportation, the arts or the health department, which relies heavily on grants."
The Sheriff's Office had originally requested funding for 11 new positions, four of which were granted. But, one of those positions will be paid for within the department's current budget. Martinez figured out how to cut costs in other areas to fund one of the new employees. He has said a roughly 18 percent increase in calls throughout his tenure as sheriff has left his department understaffed.
The other new positions that will be added next year include a deputy attorney, transportation planner, transit technician, environmental health scientist, energy analyst and a planner within the Community Development Department.
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Carson noted that some of the positions, such as the transportation planner, transit technician and environmental health scientist, will be primarily funded through other sources. The service districts — Park City Fire District, Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District and Mountain Regional Water — will fund the deputy attorney.
Seventy-five percent of the transportation planner's nearly $96,000 salary will be funded by the transit district. The new employee is intended to help ease the workload of Caroline Rodriguez, Summit County's regional transportation planning director.
"Caroline focuses a lot on the actual transit system, but there is a lot of transportation-related work she should be doing like creating a master active transportation plan," Carson said. "This person will help out with that.
The transit technician will be supported by the two transportation sales taxes voters approved in 2016, while laboratory fees will pay for the new environmental health scientist.
"I'm really excited about that," said Carson, who also sits on the Summit County Health Department's board of health, of the health scientist. "They have to send lab work out so this will be a cost savings that can also attract business from other area agencies. This will be really a positive thing."
Some of the other highlights from the budget include significant capital projects that the county plans to fund next year. Of the $28.4 million for those projects, a large portion will be spent on improvements to the Jeremy Ranch interchange.
The project is estimated to cost $11.2 million, with $3 million coming from outside sources, such as the Utah Department of Transportation, and $1.9 million from impact fees. The rest of the cost will be funded through the transportation sales taxes. The project is scheduled to begin in the spring.
Another project mentioned in the 2019 budget is one to improve the S.R. 248 corridor. That project has a price tag of $6.4 million. It will include safety and lane improvements.
The County Council also decided to fund a $100,000 study of the historic Rail Trail. Not all members of the panel initially supported the allocation, especially after trails advocate Charlie Sturgis, executive director of the Mountain Trails Organization, encouraged the Council to reconsider it.
The study will explore the potential for increased utilization of the Rail Trail and connections to economic development. Carson emphasized that the money won't just be spent on a consultant, but it will produce a plan of how to bring development to the adjacent areas.
The county plans to use transient room taxes to provide the funding for the study. Those funds are collected from overnight stays at locations such as hotels and nightly rentals in the county. TRT funds may be utilized for promoting recreation, tourism, film production and conventions, including the construction of sports and recreation facilities.
"Until we know just how we want to use it, we need the plan in place," she said. "This is another one where we put a placeholder in the budget for it, but the funding is contingent on bringing some specifics back to the Council."
Along with the approval of next year's budget, elected officials also approved the 2019 fee schedule Wednesday, which included a $4 increase to the annual curbside fees for garbage collection.
Summit County residents will see the hike reflected in the bills that will be sent in July. The total for trash collection will now be $40.
"Trash is expensive," Carson said. "To be able to recycle and build that program is also expensive. The whole solid waste management program is really an expensive operation. We are not adding any new projects with this increase, it is just for keeping up with inflation."