(KCPW News) This afternoon, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon proposed a budget for next year that's $10.8 million smaller than this year's, even though inflation and health insurance premiums have increased costs by $12 million. It's a budget scenario so rare it might be a first, says Salt Lake County Chief Financial Officer Darrin Casper.
"So, the fact that it goes down in spite of inflation, in spite of giving compensation packages to employees, rising health care costs, is really remarkable," Casper says.
The reduction was achieved by trimming programs throughout the budget. The most significant is a $31 million cut to the county's general fund, which supports the jail, the District Attorney's Office and Parks and Recreation. In addition to the smaller budget, the county will also eliminate 175 full time positions over the next year. Chief Administrative Officer Doug Willmore says this will happen mostly through attrition and an early retirement incentive.
"I don't believe we've reduced service levels anywhere," Willmore says. "So when you look at cuts that people have done, they look to see, is there a way that they could combine positions somewhere and still meet service levels. Or can we afford to cut travel and conferences? You know any number of general items like that, that lots of small things added up to big numbers."
Even though it's a smaller budget overall, the mayor was able to squeeze in $8 million to re-open a wing of Oxbow jail and add six new positions in the District Attorney's Office. This increase in public safety spending is in line with the Criminal Justice Master Plan approved by the county council last month.