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The City Journals

Murray City revenue drops, budget tightened

May 07, 2020 11:57AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray will not replace the aging pedestrian bridge by Murray High, which was torn down in April. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

What started as a rosy calendar year for Murray City turned increasingly stark as forecasted revenues dropped nearly 10% due to the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue was down $4.5 million as sales tax revenues fell 15%. However, the city’s general fund maintained a positive balance of over $5 million.

Mayor Blair Camp presented his fiscal budget address at the April 21 city council meeting. He noted the severity of change between his State of the City Address just three months earlier.

“These are unprecedented times,” Camp said. “The fact that I am presenting this budget address to you this evening in an electronic meeting illustrates and emphasizes that reality. Budget projections for this budget have been extremely challenging.”

Murray will not need to furlough employees, but they should not expect any cost of living increase this coming fiscal year. Personnel costs account for 71% of the city’s general fund expenses. The city plans to spend approximately $311,000 in general funds and $127,000 in enterprise funds (i.e., funds from Murray City Power) to support employee salary step increases.

“I believe it is important to maintain this step plan as there was so much time and effort invested in its implementation, and it impacts mainly the lower-paid employees of our city,” Camp said.

Two full-time positions have been eliminated: a development services manager in the Community and Economic Development (CED) Department and an office administrator in the DEA Metro Task Force. Another office administrator position in the CED Department, which is currently vacant due to a recent retirement, is on hold. Two new general fund positions requested by Public Works, a street maintenance worker and a civil engineer, will not be filled.

The city whittled down capital improvement projects (CIP). Initially, the city was planning to spend $8 million on new construction, but after revenues dived, the mayor asked department directors to cut projects, of which $2.9 million were approved.

“Following the COVID-19 outbreak, I instructed our department directors to reevaluate their requests and submit only for critical needs that cannot be postponed for whatever reason,” Camp said. “The CIP committee met on April 9 and were presented an itemized list of capital projects that, in the opinion of the department directors, can be postponed for the coming year.”

The most expensive item green-lighted on the CIP list is additional funding to remodel the Murray Theater, coming in at $500,000. Salt Lake County has partnered with Murray to renovate the historic theater, which the city hopes to open in 2022.

The outdoor swimming pool parking lot replacement comes in at a budgeted $300,000. The final Murray Park pavilion replacement will be completed with prior year funds. The city also budgeted $150,000 in building upgrades, including repairs to a pumphouse damaged by March’s 5.7 earthquake.

Major road projects that the city plans to begin this year include the Hanauer Road extension from 4800 South through the Murray City Center District to Vine Street. Other big road projects include a rebuild of Vinecrest Road and Cedar Streets and an overlay of 700 West.

Most city departments remain budgetarily sound, except for the Murray Parkway Golf Course. Following national trends, the golf course has been losing money for the past several years, including a loss of $257,015 this current fiscal year.

According to Camp, “What makes this budget so challenging is the fact that the length and extent of economic recovery are unknown at this point. In past years, our proposed budget was based on clear historical data and forecasted based on predictable trends. This year has caused us to react to unpredictable conditions late in our budget development.”

Murray City provides support to several independent groups by waiving fees, donating services or direct funding. The most substantial support goes to the Boys & Girls Club, valued at $100,000 (use of a city building), followed by the Light Up Navajo Project at $30,000 (donated labor) and the Murray Area Chamber of Commerce, valued at $22,700.

The entire mayor’s tentative budget can be found online at www.murray.utah.gov/148/Annual-Budget.