Summit County Council proposes $62.6 million budget
The Summit County Council is proposing nearly $15 million in capital projects for the FY 2016 budget to fund several transportation and facility-related projects. However, excluding capital projects, the recommended budget actually represents a .6 percent decrease from last year and results in no tax increase, according to Matt Leavitt, Summit County finance officer.
Council members, Summit County staff and county manager Tom Fisher have spent the last several weeks discussing the various proposals and requests from department heads for the coming year’s budget. The first of two required public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. today, Dec. 9, at the Sheldon Richins Building.
The Summit County Council has recommended an operating budget of $62.6 million, including $14.8 million specifically earmarked for capital projects. The council’s proposal represents an 8.1 percent increase from last year’s budget of $57.9 million.
"As far as ongoing expenses go the county is trying to be responsible with government resources as well as being responsive to the needs to programs and services," Leavitt said. "That was the intent of the budget committee and the manager and, I assume, the council. Trying to be cognizant of the council’s strategic objectives was right there at the forefront of the budget committee’s discussion."
Six new full-time employees are being proposed, including a Sheriff’s administration lieutenant, corrections road crew deputy, public works administrative assistant, facilities secretary, environmental health administrator and a storm water coordinator.
"Although we are adding six new employees, the increase is attributed to the capital projects because excluding them, the budget is $47.7 million," Leavitt said. "It’s holding steady and there aren’t any major increases, but we are seeing decreases in some areas."
The council’s proposal is slightly higher than Fisher recommended in October. Fisher recommended a $61.3 million budget, with $14.2 million being allocated for capital projects while the council is suggesting nearly $15 million for facility and transportation projects.
Some of the proposed transportation-related projects for 2016 include:
- $806,000 for reconstruction and interchange work at Jeremy Ranch
- $80,000 for reconstruction of the Kilby Road roundabout
- $1.7 million for road construction and overlay in the Silver Creek area
More than $10 million is being earmarked for facility projects in the council’s proposal for the following projects:
- $5.2 million for expansion of the Kamas Services Building
- $3 million for sustainability and solar-panel projects
- $3 million for development of the county’s new fairgrounds
- $60,000 for Coalville Courthouse improvements
Last year, several projects that were approved along with the 2015 budget were not complete and have been reintroduced as part of the 2016 budget.
"Some of these are just rollovers and it’s kind of a continuation of what was started last year," Leavitt said. "We won’t always have this large of a commitment in capital, but because we have had some resources that have accumulated in Transient Room and Restaurant Taxes we are able to go through with certain projects and are carrying over commitments from previous years."
In 2013, a commitment was made to invest more in capital projects and "this is a continuation of that commitment," Leavitt said.
"The budget is up in some areas and down in others, but in the end, as far as 2016 goes, we are pretty close to where we were planning on being," Leavitt said.
Kim Carson, council chair, encouraged people who are interested in the budget process to attend the hearing and provide input.
"It sounds like a large increase, but that won’t translate to the taxpayers," Carson said. "We are really focused on capital projects and adding some staff where we feel like we really need it to meet the service level demands. We don’t feel like there was any particular request that was out of the ordinary or unreasonable."
The public hearing will be held Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Building. The county will hold another public hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 6 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, in Coalville, for possible adoption and approval of the budget. The county’s budget must be finalized and approved on or before Dec. 31.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.