2017-18 Budget: Infrastructure & Livability

An essential section of Mayor Biskupski’s proposed 2017-18 budget can be categorized under “livability.”

Over the next few years, Salt Lake City will be asking residents to take on additional costs to help repair or replace infrastructure – crumbling roads, sidewalks, and lighting.

Vital street repairs and replacements have been delayed over many lean budget years, and the work never ends. Each year, for example, City streets crews fill more than 21,000 potholes.

The ask for residents’ financial support will be coupled with a strong commitment from the Mayor, the Council, and every City employee, to be responsible stewards of the dollars residents place in our hands.

The City will do everything possible to ensure the additional costs are reasonable and implemented gradually.

Streets:

 Last year, City Engineering and Transportation departments completed and presented to the City Council a report that demonstrated the high level of need for road repairs.

This team has already begun looking at various funding mechanisms to provide the financial resources necessary to maintain roads.

Over the next year, the Administration will also complete a Capital Facilities Plan, to establish a complete picture of the City’s total infrastructure needs.

One option for funding these needs, which is not included in the proposed budget, is additional general obligation bonding.

The Mayor and her administrative team are focused on strategically managing the City’s current debt burden. Presently, the City is in a period of required increased payment to service outstanding debt obligations.

“After careful consideration, and in consultation with our finance experts, I have determined the City will be in a much better financial position to consider a new general obligation bond next year, when existing bonds are scheduled to expire,” Mayor Biskupski said.

By waiting through this year, the City avoids placing additional tax burden on residents in 2017.

“My hope is that by working together, with robust public engagement, we can have both an infrastructure funding plan and a long-term project plan in place next year,” the Mayor added.

This year, through a new policy implemented for the Capital Improvement Fund, $1.9 million dollars will be reallocated and dedicated to shovel ready projects—with road and street repair prioritized. This brings the total funding allocated to roads, sidewalks, and streets to more than over $8 million dollars this year.

The new policy focuses CIP funds on projects ready to begin—projects that have multiple phases to them or can be completed in two years.

Golf:

A truly great city provides an ample number of parks, recreation opportunities, and green spaces for its residents and visitors.

Salt Lake City has always supported a robust public golf program. As such, the Mayor is recommending prioritizing $400,000 dollars to move the Rose Park Golf Course into the general fund.

This allows the expansion of a community asset beloved by Rose Park residents.

While exploring ways to ensure Rose Park stays a golf course forever, by placing it in the general fund the City has the opportunity to create additional amenities like trails and Jordan River activation.

This step also allows the start of a process to create a northwest recreation area, by aligning the golf course with the nearby Regional Athletic Complex and Jordan River Disc Golf—both supported by the general fund.

The move will help to stabilize the golf fund, and more importantly, preserves a favorite recreational site for West Side residents and the entire community.

Sewer Treatment Plant Redo:

The other major infrastructure project Salt Lake City will begin is the replacement of our City’s sewer treatment plant, with improvements and upgrades to our sewer collection system.

This project—being led by Lara Briefer, Salt Lake City Public Utilities Director —will prepare the City for future economic and population growth.

It also helps further our environmental goals by ensuring our treatment process meets the highest possible clean standards, set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The current treatment plant has operated quietly on the community’s northwest side for 50 years. The new plant is expected to last another 50 years.

So this is a once in a generation project.

In order to responsibly pay for this multi-year project, Public Utilities has proposed a 5-year rate plan to increase sewer rates as gradually as possible. The intent is to upgrade this critical infrastructure, while at the same time limiting the impact on residents.

Importantly, all funds gathered by the Public Utilities Department through water, lighting, and sewer bills are spent only on those critical pieces of infrastructure.

The highest-quality utility services will always be delivered in Salt Lake City, and at the most reasonable rates.

To read Mayor Biskupski’s full budget presentation speech, please visit: https://slcmayorblog.com/

To read the entire FY 2017-18 recommended budget, please visit: http://www.slcgov.com/budget

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