County prepping budget for public input
With the first public input session on the proposed 2014 budget set for this Wednesday, the Summit County Council began to put the finishing touches on the tentative budget during a work session on Monday.
The addition of an environmental health position, which had previously not been recommended by the Manager or Council, was a notable update to the budget. Requested by Health Dept. Director Richard Bullough, the position would be on the ground helping to implement the county’s new onsite wastewater policies.
The position would be contracted and paid roughly $50,000 a year and would be split between conducting onsite wastewater inspections and real-time air quality monitoring.
During Monday’s work session, some members of the Council took issue with the origin of certain departments’ funding. Dave Ure pointed out that the Justice Court will receive 100 percent of its funding from municipal taxes, even though the court serves the whole county.
Ure requested that 30 percent of the Justice Court’s funding come from the General Fund. He also asked that 40 percent instead of 20 percent of the public safety budget be covered by the General Fund. Public safety includes administration, patrol, special operations, criminal investigations and the major crimes unit.
County Manager Bob Jasper responded by saying that every month the county gives money to East Side cities for public safety and does not receive money from those cities. For every citation that is issued in Kamas or Park City, the only cities with public safety forces, a portion is distributed to the Municipal Services Fund.
The county will also slowly be receiving revenues over the next several years from the construction it completed on Lower Village Road, as developers on that street had to pay for their share of the road to get a building permit.
Borrowing revenues from surplus funds to balance the budget is another tool that will be utilized, according to Senior Finance Officer Matt Leavitt. Over $2.3 million in surplus funds will be contributed from the Assessing and Collecting, Recreation, Capital, General Obligation Bond and Municipal Funds.
Jasper believes fund balances will be greater at the end of 2014 than at the end of 2013. The county expects that to be the case due to revenue expected from projected growth, much of it in the Snyderville Basin.
With increased revenue from growth and the approved tax increase for the Municipal Services Fund and Service Area 6, the county has been able to request the addition of seven new positions. The Sheriff’s Office will have one new patrol position added with another position unfrozen from 2013’s budget.
"That’s still fewer positions than [the Sheriff’s Office] had three or four years ago," Jasper said.
The addition of a new Planning and Zoning Administrator, who has already been hired, and a budgeted building inspector for the Community Development Department is part of the county’s plan of proactively addressing demands for growth.
Overall, the county’s operating budget for 2014 features a 12.2 percent increase over 2013. Minus capital projects, however, that increase amounts to 3.3 percent, and Jasper stressed that 2014’s budget is mainly about catching up on deferred road projects, addressing growth and helping to restore public safety.
To view the proposed 2014 budget, visit summitcounty.org, and under ‘Government’ click ‘Summit County Financial Reports.’ Those who view the document should note it is subject to change. The Summit County Council will take public input on the proposed budget on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. in the Auditorium of the Sheldon Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Boulevard.
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