COVID-19 has huge impact on Salt Lake County’s proposed 2021 budget

Oct 20, 2020, 6:04 PM
salt lake county budget covid-19...
(Salt Lake County Complex. Credit: Paul Nelson)
(Salt Lake County Complex. Credit: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office released its proposed budget for 2021, and it includes a massive impact from COVID-19. Officials say a lot of county offices will have to make due with what they have now.

When the pandemic reached Utah, every department in Salt Lake County made huge cuts. Officials say the Community Services Department took the biggest hit, which covers recreation centers and arts and culture organizations. Some of those facilities are operating on “a shoestring budget,” according to financial analysts.

Rec centers impacted

You can see that when you walk into the Taylorsville Recreation Center. The county delayed many of the youth sports leagues until further notice, and moved gym equipment to ensure social distancing. Some people who use that gym say the staff maintains it nicely, but few people use it. 

One man told KSL, “There’s only like three or four people there when I work out.”

According to county leaders, the Community Services Department is down another $1.6 million this year.  Some of their main revenue generating venues, like the Eccles Theater, remain essentially closed; Broadway shows won’t return until next September.

COVID-19 and the 2021 budget

Out of the $33 million cut from county operations, only $6.4 million was restored for 2021. Overall, the 2021 budget has $26.5 million less than what was forecast for 2020.

(Screen grab of the county’s unassigned fund balance during the online county meeting.)

“Our decision to make cuts across the county [in March through June] allowed us to protect critical services and set us up for a quick restart.  Many of the cuts remain in this proposed budget,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said. 

Fortunately, there were a lot of vacant positions in county government, so officials didn’t have to make large rounds of layoffs like other counties had to.  County Chief Financial Officer Darrin Casper said the vast majority of those unfilled positions are going to stay that way.

“The mayor ordered that we institute a hiring freeze. So only the most critical positions that were needed were allowed to go through the hiring freeze,” Casper said.

Fiscally conservative for the foreseeable future

However, there is still a lot of uncertainty about county funding for next year, so Casper says they have no choice but to put themselves in a fiscally conservative stance. A large amount of federal funding won’t be around for 2021.

“This emergency is going to continue, yet the CARES Act funds expire on the 30th of December, this year,” Casper said.

Plus, they have a massive vaccination plan they have to prepare for when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, and Casper says they don’t know how expensive that will be.

Despite the budget cuts and uncertainty, Casper says there are reasons to be optimistic.  He says general sales tax revenue is up over two percent, even though restaurant tax revenues were down by 25 percent and transient room taxes dropped between 50 and 75 percent.  Also, Casper says there was enough money to open the Granite and Daybreak libraries and they’re hiring employees for those facilities.

Today’s Top Stories


File photo: Soldiers from the Utah National Guard prepare to depart Roland R. Wright Air National G...
Amie Schaeffer

Utah Air National Guard Airman dies during routine deployment

An airman from the Utah National Guard passed away from undisclosed medical issues while deployed in Guam on Nov. 29.
1 day ago
Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson wants his old job back. ...
Mark Jones

Rocky Anderson announces bid to run for SLC mayor in 2023

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced Wednesday that he is seeking reelection to get his old job back.
2 days ago
Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen here with audience members after appearing at at CNN town ...
Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Pence says Trump was ‘wrong’ for dinner with Holocaust denier

Former Vice President Mike Pence says former President Donald Trump was wrong for having dinner with a Holocaust denier and should apologize for it.
3 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
7 days ago
Dozens of residents were displaced after fire at a low income apartment complex in Richfield, Utah....
Mark Jones

American Red Cross of Utah seeks volunteers in central Utah

The American Red Cross of Utah is seeking volunteers in central Utah after a fire in Richfield earlier this week displaced 35 families.
7 days ago
On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted me...
Waverly Golden

Thanksgiving Day donations and volunteering

On Thanksgiving Day, Crave Cookies donated to the Utah County Jail and The Salvation Army hosted meal preparation and delivery to Utah families.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
COVID-19 has huge impact on Salt Lake County’s proposed 2021 budget