(KCPW News) Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon’s 2010 budget proposal includes more than $140 million in cuts and a $13 million property tax increase, but no significant layoffs or cuts to human services and public safety. It also preserves programs for at-risk youth and seniors, as well as the newly re-opened Oxbow Jail. Chief Financial Officer Darrin Casper says this is significant in a time of economic crisis.
“We’re in the midst of the worst recession in almost eight decades,” Casper says. “I mean, we shouldn’t understate how devastating this recession actually is.”
Casper says this budget proposal would prepare the county to rebuff future cuts by building up its fund reserves. It does this by increasing property taxes about $20 per year for a home valued at the median price of $260,000. The fund balance is critical to retaining the county’s AAA bond rating.
Chief Administrative Officer Doug Willmore says the budgeting process was made easier because of the incremental cuts made throughout this past year, including a hiring freeze, cuts to all county offices and a 2.75 percent reduction in wages. He says this was a smart way to ease into these larger cuts.
“You don’t have time to do it responsibly and smart because when you just start to cut like that, you cut things that are important,” Willmore says. “As opposed to: We think we’ve taken a year to shrink and done it without really appreciably reducing important services.”
While the budget proposal doesn’t include major layoffs, the county has undergone a 7.4 percent workforce reduction in the last year, losing about 310 full time positions. Wilmore says this was achieved primarily through attrition.