Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams laid out his 2014 budget proposal today, which he describes as structurally balanced and fiscally conservative. The $870 million budget includes funding for a handful of new initiatives and a pay increase for county employees.
McAdams says the economic recession forced the county to tighten its belt in a number of ways. Employees, for instance haven’t had a raise in five years. So he’s proposing a 2.5% across- the-board pay increase as well as the full restoration of retirement packages to pre-recession levels. His proposal also includes funding for an afterschool program in Sandy and the expansion of county health plans to include autism coverage.
“The Centers for Disease control reports that one in 47 individuals in Utah fall on the autism disorders spectrum,” McAdams says. “Supporting our employee’s efforts to care for and educate their autistic children, results in a more productive and less distracted workforce.”
McAdams’ proposal also sets aside about $800,000 to connect pedestrian trails and bikeways across the county and provides funding for two new community theaters; one in West Valley City and the other in Cottonwood Heights.
He says none of these efforts required Salt Lake County government to increase spending in 2014.
“So one of the things that we have done is restructured how things work in county government to try and do things more efficiently and carry out our goal as a convening metropolitan government,” McAdams says.
This is McAdams first budget proposal since he took office in January. Prior to his appointment, the Salt Lake County Council approved a $16.2 percent property tax increase, days after voters agreed to spend $47 million on a parks and trails bond.
The county council will review McAdams proposal before adopting a final budget in mid-December.