GOVERNMENT

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

Government

This June 20, 2017, photo provided by Chris Wonderly shows Hovenweep Castle at Hovenweep National M...
Curt Gresseth

Supreme Court widens state power over tribes. What does it mean for Utah?

The director of the Utah Division of Indian Affairs discusses the recent US Supreme Court ruling and what it means for tribes in Utah.
1 day ago
Ketanji Brown Jackson takes the oath for the Supreme Court....
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Jackson sworn in, becomes 1st Black woman on Supreme Court

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, 51, will be sworn as the court's 116th justice Thursday, just as the man she is replacing, Justice Stephen Breyer, retires.
1 day ago
Immigration activists rally outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on April 26. Photo credi...
Tierney Sneed and Priscilla Alvarez, CNN

Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy.
1 day ago
The Supreme Court is pictured. The court just limited the EPA...
MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

Supreme Court limits EPA in curbing power plant emissions

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited how the nation's main anti-air pollution law can be used to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.
1 day ago
President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference on the final day of the NATO summit in Madrid, ...
DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ZEKE MILLER Associated Press

Biden says transatlantic alliance has adapted to new threats

Biden's comments came at a press conference in Madrid at the conclusion of the annual meeting of NATO leaders and after he attended a summit with the Group of Seven advanced democratic economies in the Bavarian Alps.
1 day ago
A Rite Aid logo is displayed on its store...
HALELUYA HADERO, AP Reporter

Amazon, Rite Aid cap purchase of emergency contraceptives

Retailers limiting purchases is standard practice that helps retailers prevent stockpiling and reselling at higher prices.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
COVID-19 has huge impact on Salt Lake County’s proposed 2021 budget