Summit County manager recommends eight new county positions in 2019
Summit County’s budget talks are kicking off this week, with elected officials getting their first glimpse of Summit County Manager Tom Fisher’s plans.
Fisher’s proposal shows an overall increase in spending that is partly attributed to the suggested hiring of eight new full-time employees in 2019.
A Summit County staff report released on Friday revealed his preliminary budget recommendation of $55.6 million and previewed the discussion he was expected to have with the Summit County Council on Wednesday. The operating budget represents a 2.5 percent increase from last year but would not require a tax bump.
“One of the things that we wanted to accomplish when we went through Truth in Taxation (last year) was to maintain service levels so people didn’t see an increase,” he said. “A 2.5 percent increase is well below the rate of inflation both nationally and state wide.”
The budget proposal shows a $1.3 million increase to the county’s overall operating costs, with $10.7 million earmarked for capital projects, including a project to connect Silver Creek and Bitner roads. But, $8.6 million of it is carried over from a 2018 transportation bond that was approved to help fund road projects such as the Jeremy Ranch interchange.
The eight newly created positions would include a deputy county attorney, transportation planner and two new transit-related positions. Summit County Sheriff Justin Martinez requests 11 new employees to respond to an increase in the volume of calls that are being received. But, Fisher’s plan only includes two. The transportation-related positions would be funded by sales taxes that have been implemented in recent years. Fisher said the new employees would work closely with Caroline Rodriguez, the county’s regional transportation planning director. The transit planner is a position that would be funded by both Park City and the county.
“This is a position we have been talking about in the county that would be managed out of Park City transit,” he said. “It would give us day-to-day eyes on operations and where we can make improvements to make sure we are participating in future planning. This would ensure the county’s voice is always a part of that conversation.”
New sales taxes that the County Council approved in 2018 are reflected in the 2019 budget. However, Fisher did not recommend any expenditures against the revenues from those taxes.
“We need to prepare for a large project in the future around the Kimball Junction interchange,” he said. “We are starting to plan on doing something with the Utah Department of Transportation to improve that interchange, but I want us to start saving for that now.”
An overall decrease in the amount of expenditures within the administration is suggested in order to maintain service levels, with slight increases in areas such as public safety, public works and public health being offset by an increase in revenues.
The county’s fiscal year runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, and the Council plans to finalize the 2019 budget by the end of December. Department-by-department discussions about staffing needs and other budget issues will continue throughout October and November. The county’s budget committee has spent more than 70 hours reviewing requests, with “very candid” and sometimes “impassioned” discussions taking place, according to the staff report.
“As we all know, there are a lot of decisions to be made between now and then,” Fisher said. “This preliminary recommendation will change. It is a living document until it is adopted, so we expect that and expect a lot of lively conversations between departments as we go through this process over the next month and half.”
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