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Safety, walkability, greenery are some of mayor’s priorities for city’s future

Apr 03, 2022 07:20PM ● By Bill Hardesty

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

South Salt Lake administration and City Council kicked off the FY2023 budget planning by sharing priorities during the Feb. 23 work meeting.

Mayor Cherie Wood started and councilmembers followed with their priorities.

The mayor's priorities

Lindsay Ferrari, a partner with Wilkinson Ferrari & Company, was the lead consultant for the General Plan approved in 2021. She mentioned the three primary sources for priority information: resident comments collected in 2021, the Values Survey conducted at the end of 2020, and the General Plan.

Ferrari held meetings with council members and cabinet (department heads) members to understand their priorities. Then, she revised and refined the information for the mayor.

"This has been a fun process to go through. Because we did have so many different ways to receive information on what people wanted to see happen as our community takes shape and what are priorities for them," Wood said.

The 2022 priorities are based on three key initiatives: build stronger neighborhoods, celebrate South Salt Lake and invest in people. These key initiatives were converted into six objectives: ensure safe and vibrant neighborhoods; enhance walkability and bikeability; ensure SSL has quality infrastructure; address supply of affordable housing; enhance green space and parks in SSL; and retain quality employees.

The objectives were broken into three or more priorities for each goal.

Objective No. 1 Ensure Safe and Vibrant Neighborhoods

The first priority for this objective is to mitigate homelessness's real and perceived impact in neighborhoods. This priority is further broken into two strategies: improve public spaces' safety with increased public safety presence and secure vacant buildings.

The second priority is improving street lighting, and addressing parking enforcement in identified areas is third. Finally, the fourth priority is to address neighborhood issues by addressing speeding, increasing code enforcement presence, and increasing outreach to neighborhoods to identify and respond to issues.

Objective No. 2 Enhance Walkability and Bikeabililty

The first priority is to improve sidewalks by either repairing or installing them. The second priority is to adopt the city's mobility plan. Identifying buffered/protected "north-south" bike lane projects is third, and the last is to improve and maintain existing trails.

Objective No. 3 Ensure SSL has Quality Infrastructure

The first priority is identifying funding to improve water infrastructure, including wastewater, water and stormwater. The second priority is to build a public works campus that will help all water infrastructure. The final priority is to create a 5-year Capital Improvements plan.

Objective No. 4 Address Supply of Affordable Housing

The first priority is to create strategies to help existing residents stay in place. One such example is to use Accessory Dwelling Units (See separate article). The second priority is to address existing affordable housing quality by increasing flexibility with housing types allowed and providing housing referral support. The final priority is to incentivize affordable housing within the city.

Objective No. 5 Enhance Green Space and Parks in SSL

The first priority is increased funding to improve/manage our urban forest. Residents consistently want more trees. The two strategies listed with this priority are to contract with a forester and maintain and mitigate impacts. The next priority is to improve existing green spaces/parks. The final priority is to plan for recreation amenities west of State Street.

Objective No. 6 Retain Quality Employees

The first priority is to invest in human resources and an employee retention plan. The plan includes a citywide salary survey to make market adjustments, conduct an employee survey, provide new training opportunities, improve facilities, improve technology and workflows to make work streamlined, and evaluate employee incentives. The second priority is to increase salaries for all employees by finding new ongoing funding sources for public safety, keeping civilian employee wages competitive, and funding essential grant-funded employees in Promise SSL. The last priority is to explore solutions to rising healthcare/benefit costs by having the Benefits Committee consider publishing a Request For Proposal for broker services.

City council priorities

The mayor mentioned many of the councilmembers' priorities. However, councilmembers added to the list.

Sharla Bynum, District 3, added to bring firefighters' salaries equal to law enforcement's salaries. Also, install speed bumps, have more park items for older kids, fund a part-time position for the Arts Council, and provide new iPads for the council.

Natalie Pinkney, councilmember at-large, wants more funding for the Promise SSL Financial Center. She also wants to make sure repairs are equitable across the city and find ways for more beautification of the city.

Clarissa Williams, councilmember at-large, suggested adding more tech on the city's website allowing for more online resident services. She also mentioned that the dark-sky movement principles should be considered with increased street lighting.

Corey Thomas, District 2, wants more blinking crosswalk lights. She also reinforced the need for more street lighting, employee compensation and code enforcement.

LeeAnne Huff, District 1, spoke about cleaning up the S-line corridor. However, any work must be done in partnership with Salt Lake County since they own the land.

Mayor Wood said more conversations would occur within the administration. They will also go through the budget line by line. She expects to present her proposed budget by the end of April or early May. A balanced budget must be approved by June 30.