2017-18 tentative budget approved by council
Jun 02, 2017 11:48AM ● Published by Kelly Cannon
Budget 1: South Salt Lake managed to put together their budget despite distractions revolving around the homeless shelter site. (South Salt Lake)
The South Salt Lake City Council approved the tentative budget for fiscal year 2017-18. The budget was presented to and approved by council during the April 26 meeting.
The tentative budget was presented by South Salt Lake Director of Finance Kyle Kershaw, who said it was a tough budget to compile for a number of reasons, first being money is always an issue.
“This budget reflects our first year of having a significant reduced amount of sales tax probably by half a million dollars. We expected that. We planned for that,” Kershaw said. “We knew this year there was going to be that dip in it. Next year, we’re hoping that it recovers.”
In addition, Kershaw said Mayor Cherie Wood had heard the city council’s desire for raises for the city’s employees. The raises were included for public safety and public employees.
“With the revenue dip and raises, that created some challenges that we tried to address. That’s one reason why this budget was tough. And they’re tough every year,” Kershaw said. “The requests far exceed the resources.”
The other reason the budget was difficult to put together was the finance department began working with other departments on the budget around mid-February, right when the announcement of a potential homeless shelter site was announced by the state.
“The departments were plowing along, getting the information to us and then we had the whole homeless shelter issue that hijacked everybody’s time for about six to eight weeks,” Kershaw said. “Not only once the decision was made in the two to three weeks since that, a lot of staff time has been on preparing responses and our reactions to the homeless shelter situations.”
Kershaw said with the added distraction of helping with the homeless shelter issue, the budget was put together by staff who found bits of time to do so. However, he felt they still did a comprehensive and conscientious job.
According to Kershaw, the overall tentative budget for fiscal year 2017-18 is around $44 million. This included $29,899,210 in the general fund, $331,000 in the leased equipment debt service, $6,049,500 in the capital improvements fund, $2,390,000 in the water utility fund, $2,221,000 in the sewer utility fund, $505,000 in the solid waste water collection fund, $1,650,500 in the ambulance services fund, $141,000 in the housing fund and $642,000 in the insurance reserve fund.
Kershaw pointed out specific parts of the budget, including highlighting the step increase in pay for public safety employees and public employees.
“Employee benefits rise as employee salary rise because so many benefits are a percentage of salary but one thing we feel great about is two years ago on our medical insurance we had a zero percent increase,” Kershaw said. “One year ago, we had a zero percent increase. Coming up for fiscal year 2018, we were given a four percent increase. That’s about a 1.33 percent increase per year over the last three years.”
Kershaw said there was a big increase to the general fund by about $2.4 million in Class C funds, which will fund construction and street maintenance projects.
“They’ve been delaying them and we’re going to be getting to them this year,” Kershaw said.
According to Kershaw, there were some major issues in the capital improvements fund that will require further discussions and conversations. One of the issues is a fund exchange with Salt Lake County of about $725,000 for the Fitts Park site. Another issue Kershaw brought up that he felt there needed to be more conversation about was Wood’s request to include $300,000 extra to the ambulance service fund to retrofit the ambulance rigs.
“I know there’s another discussion still in process and what the mayor did say any work will not commence until there’s authorization from the city council,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw warned the council the sewer fund will have to change after the budget is adopted because of the changes happening to the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility.
“The sewer fund will change but this is the best we have right now,” Kershaw said. “We don’t even have any of the big bond costs or acquisitions because we’re not sure on the timing from Central Valley of when projects are going to start and when the bonds will fund.”