Summit County budget tops $74 million
Spending hike anticipates revenue from two new sales taxes
Summit County will spend more than $74.5 million next year as the county continues to focus on improving transportation with anticipated revenue from the two new sales taxes voters approved in November.
Last week, the County Council unanimously approved next year’s budget, two weeks ahead of the Dec. 31 deadline. It features a more than 20 percent increase from last year’s budget of $59.4 million and includes nearly $19 million specifically earmarked for capital projects. The proposed $15 million spending hike does not require a mil levy increase.
More than $2.1 million in additional revenue from the two sales and use taxes is expected. An additional $3.5 million is expected from grants through the Utah Department of Transportation to complete the Jeremy Ranch interchange project.
“We really want to continue to focus on our strategic plans, which are clearly centered on transit and capital related to transit. We spent a lot of time on that,” said Tom Fisher, county manager. “While 2017 won’t be the culmination of that, you will start to see some of our transportation demand management, like bike share and changes to our transit system, implemented.”
A significant remodel of the Summit County Fairgrounds, refinancing of a county bond and further dedication to the Justice Reform Initiative account for a large part of the increase in expenditures. The Sheriff’s Office was also granted to new full-time probation employees and the county’s emergency manager was moved from part-time to full-time.
“We wanted to make sure in a year that we are asking for increased revenue that we weren’t aggressively increasing our request for employees,” Fisher said. “We want to see how this revenue affects our budget.
“We still have other challenges that are not related to transportation to take care of,” Fisher said.
While no resources were specifically dedicated to affordable housing or behavioral health for the coming year, Fisher said he anticipates future discussions around these issues for the 2018 budget. He said the county is also working with Park City leaders about potentially combining dispatch services.
“All of those will culminate with something having to be done, but we don’t know what that means as far as future budgets,” Fisher said. “We will be doing some analysis on some of those early in the year and we want to make sure that, in talking with Park City, we do it right.”
Fisher said he and the budget committee also suggested County Council members begin considering increasing property taxes. He said maintaining service levels, especially in the western part of the county, “is going to become more and more challenging as the years go on.”
“The surveys that we do show that the public is pretty satisfied with our service levels, but our auditor and treasurer brought up stabilizing our property tax rates next year in order to bring up revenue levels to react to some of these new needs of our community,” Fisher said.
County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said the county’s finances “are, overall, fairly stable.” He said staffing levels have gradually returned to pre-recession numbers and “we are happy with what we approved.”
“I think we are fine and I think we will be happy once we get some of these projects behind us. They are one-time hits, and once they are behind us I think we will be more comfortable,” Armstrong said. “That is the most critical right now is to move these through the system and then we can step back and look at what we got and what the needs are. But, overall, we are healthy.”
For more information about the county’s budget for the coming year, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4249.
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