Controlling Our Destiny: Mayor Biskupski’s FY19 Budget


On Monday, April 30th, Mayor Jackie Biskupski presented her recommended balanced budget for the 2019 fiscal year. It reflects her priorities to address the City’s critical needs and services, such as neighborhood security, roads and infrastructure, affordable housing, and better transit. To read the entire FY19 recommended budget, visit:

Below is a transcript of Mayor Biskupski’s speech:

Thank you for joining me this morning.

Today I am proud to present to the City Council for review a balanced budget, along with a formal recommendation to adopt the Funding Our Future tax proposal, under consideration tomorrow evening.

The opportunities to address our critical needs and to build a resilient Capital City through this proposal are unprecedented.

We truly have a rare opportunity to control our own destiny.

I want to begin by thanking our finance team led by Mary Beth Thompson, John Vyuk, and Lisa Packwood for diligently working over the last few months, to craft this fiscally responsible budget, reflective of the values of Salt Lake City.

To say this year’s process was unique is an understatement.

With the potential new revenue generated from the Funding Our Future tax proposal, also comes great responsibility to allocate this funding strategically and transparently, to meet the goals set by the people in this community.

My recommended budget this year is presented in two parts: our general fund expenses and revenue, and the potential revenue from the tax proposal.

These potential funds have been allocated in the identified critical need areas of transit, affordable housing, roadway improvements, and neighborhood safety.

As a whole, this budget is focused on people and investing in the City we are proud to call home.

It is the manifestation of the values we share.

For the last two and a half years, my Administration has been driven to Create a City for Everyone, with the values of equity, resilience, and empowerment leading our decision making.

Our mission is to deliver excellent customer service and develop progressive solutions that allow our residents to live, work, and play in the Capital City.

This mission is carried out by more than 3,000 City employees who go above and beyond their job descriptions every day.

In March, a call came into our 911 dispatch center.

The caller, a woman clearly in distress, was connected with 911 Director Lisa Burnette who just happened to be taking calls at the time.

The woman was out of breath, both from running and the fear she was feeling after a violent encounter with her boyfriend.

As she continued to run, Lisa calmly directed the shaken woman to provide details on her whereabouts, so she could send help.

And help did come in an unlikely manner.

A team with our sanitation crew was out in one of the marked City vehicles, inspecting recycling cans on the street.

The woman made her way to the vehicle and found refuge in the back seat and comfort from Jen Farrell and Kelly Curvin—two city employees.

When handed the phone, Kelly indicated to dispatch they had encountered the woman’s boyfriend as he was circling the block.

Jen, Kelly, and now Laron Jackson, a sanitation truck driver who encountered the situation on his route, all kept the woman safe until the police arrived minutes later.

This is just one story of many where a City employee goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Each of our employees is a civil servant, dedicated to the people and the success of Salt Lake City.

As Mayor, I couldn’t be prouder to lead this incredible workforce.

The employees care for this City, and it is our responsibility to care for them.

Over the past three years, my recommended budgets have focused on correcting imbalances in the pay structure within Salt Lake City, namely, ensuring our employees are fairly compensated for the work they do compared to their peers in the greater market.

This effort is not only fair, but a prudent action for the City to take in a tight job market.

With a recommended salary adjustment of 3% this year, along with adjustments we made over the last three years, we can continue to compete with the greater market and keep up with the 3-year average inflation rate of 5%.

This pay adjustment, along with meeting the demands of a 7% increase in our health care costs, represent the largest change in the general fund budget.

These increases have been largely offset with budget cuts throughout departments, operational efficiencies, and vacancy savings.

I want to thank every department, division leader, and your finance experts for examining your budgets closely to find these savings.

This work has allowed the City to maintain funding in critical areas including: our commitment to Operation Rio Grande, homeless services, and meeting our 7% allocation to the Capital Improvement Program, which helps fund maintenance and repair projects on the City’s physical infrastructure.

My recommended general fund budget also includes some small investments in programs and equipment focused on improving the quality of life for Salt Lake City residents.

These include a one-time $360,000 investment in parks, trails, and open space, clean-up projects—ensuring these important spaces continue to be places where we enjoy spending our time.

There is a one-time $250,000 investment in new equipment for the Fire Department, to help keep them one of the best in the nation.

This is a rating reinforced in December, when the Salt Lake City Fire Department became the first agency in Utah, to receive a Class 1 Designation from the Insurance Service Office.

With this designation, the Salt Lake City Fire Department joined a small group of 270 elite departments in the nation.

This rating is used by insurers to assess rates, which could ultimately mean all of us pay less for insurance because of their strategic planning.

I am also recommending an increase of $30,000 to the Arts Council’s grant program, to help local artists continue to flourish in this City.

And, as I always say, we are in this together, so my budget recommendation includes funding to continue partnerships with organizations across the City which are focused on empowering individuals who are most in need.

This funding includes a one-time $33,000 commitment to the YWCA, to complete a domestic violence study, which will guide the life-saving work they do in collaboration with our law enforcement team.

And, $30,000 to help expand the impact of the Bicycle Collective’s Goodwill Bikes program.

This program provides bikes to those most in need, helping them access employment opportunities and create connectivity with their local shops.

Our greatest opportunities for this fiscal year and for years beyond, lie most profoundly in the Funding Our Future tax proposal which is before the City Council tomorrow night.

Over the course of two and a half years, our City has developed plans and strategies to tackle deferred maintenance of infrastructure and address future growth.

The Funding Our Future proposal—which City staff has been engaging the community on for the past few months—is an opportunity for the Capital City to control its own destiny.

If passed by the Council, Funding Our Future, will allow Salt Lake City to do what many cities across the country have been unable to accomplish—that is to implement strategic plans quickly, through a dedicated funding source.

Through engagement on both the funding option and the development of the plans themselves, we know the community is committed to addressing the issues of: affordable housing, transit, neighborhood safety, street repairs, and clean air.

If passed, we anticipate Salt Lake City to collect an additional $25 million dollars in revenue in this fiscal year—with collections beginning in the fall. In future years, we anticipate a full year of revenue to be $33 million dollars.

As presented in my recommended budget, this funding will be fully directed to the critical need areas identified by the community and for which we have robust plans to move forward.

It is important to note, that it will take multiple years to fully realize our goals in each of these areas.

This year, I propose jump starting each of our plans with groundwork noticeable by residents immediately, and from which future phases can be built upon.

And, when it comes to the roads, rebuilding is exactly what we need to do.

It is from these bays and garages that our streets and maintenance crews prepare for their days of repaving roads, filling potholes, and sealing cracks.

To fully accomplish our goal of rebuilding the worst of the City’s roads—two thirds of which are rated poor or failing—and to perform the necessary maintenance to prevent the best roads from falling to a similar fate, these bays and garages must be more active than they are today.

To keep Parviz Rokhva, the Streets Division Director, and his team busy, I am proposing $7.1 million dollars of the new sales tax revenue be directed to our streets and infrastructure programs this year.

This includes $2.9 million dollars for a new Streets Construction and Maintenance Crew.

This additional crew will allow the City to maintain 155 lane miles of roadway annually, doubling the amount we can maintain today.

We will also be able to maintain an extra 5-lane miles through efficiencies.

With the new crew, our maintenance teams can work side-by-side on Salt Lake City’s unusually wide streets.

This simple act allows for faster treatment application—thus creating the extra lane miles—roughly the distance between City Hall and Sugarhouse Park.

Though we recognize the largest impact to the road reconstruction funding gap will come from a potential voter-approved general obligation bond of $87 million dollars, it is imperative we begin work now.

With this in mind, I am also recommending that $3.75 million dollars of the potential sales tax funding be allocated to the City’s Capital Improvement Program to fund “shovel ready” road and sidewalk projects throughout the City.

To keep our streets and neighborhoods safe and secure, we must also begin our phased approach of increasing the number of police officers in the City.

Last year the Council approved the hiring of up to an additional 50 police officers for our neighborhoods.

These 50 positions include 27 officers to bring back neighborhood bike patrol teams which have been diverted to the downtown area, and an additional 23 officers for regular patrol efforts.

Over the last few months, Chief Brown has already recruited 36 individuals to fill vacant positions the Salt Lake City Police Department had due to natural attrition.

These new officers will graduate from the Academy, and are anticipated to be in our neighborhoods in May and September.

The next phase of our efforts, will be to recruit the 27 officers identified by the Police Department as critical to our patrol efforts.

To allow this phase to move forward, I have recommended $2.2 million dollars of the potential sales tax funding to be set aside for new salaries, as well as $329,000 for equipment costs.

These officers will enter the academy this year, with a graduation time-line of 10 months.

However, the pool of applicants has shrunk considerably.

In order to address retention and recruitment concerns we also must address our overall compensation competitiveness with other agencies around the state.

In order to address this concern, I am also recommending allocating $2.5 million dollars to provide an overall salary and benefit increase, along with an additional 401K increase for new officers.

These changes will put the salary and benefits package offered by the Salt Lake City Police Department on par with competing agencies to recruit and retain the officers we need.

This will help Chief Brown and his team meet the goals we have set.

This year’s hiring phase, will also include the completion of an independent staffing study currently being conducted by the International Association of Police Chiefs.

This comprehensive study will help SLCPD better identify our staffing needs as the city grows and manages the daily influx of people. It will also help direct resources in a strategic manner.

As with all of the identified critical needs, we must move forward with solid data and studies—as Chief Brown says: we must rely on the value of “intelligence-based policing” in making our staffing decisions.

With last year’s staffing approval by the Council, Chief Brown has the ability to implement the next phases of our hiring goals over the next two years, using a data driven approach.

With crime down throughout the City, additional officers will reinforce the success SLCPD has achieved and bring a neighborhood approach back to our communities, further reducing crime.

This staffing model will also require additional civilian personnel. I am recommending in my budget: a new case manager, victim advocate, social workers, crime analysts, and crime lab technicians.

The Funding Our Future proposal will also allow the City to begin implementing the Growing SLC housing plan we passed last December.

With a proposed allocation of $4.1 million dollars this year, we anticipate being able to create housing opportunities for 412 individuals and families.

Our housing proposal includes funding a variety of programs to create new units, stabilize renters at risk, and increase access to home ownership.

The largest portion of this funding proposal, $2.1 million dollars, will be directed toward our Housing Trust Fund which provides financing and incentives to include affordable units in mixed income developments.

Utilizing the Housing Trust Fund, Salt Lake City has already been able to leverage private dollars to create housing at all income levels. In fact, for every $1 dollar invested, $20 dollars of private investment is leveraged.

And through the Housing Trust Fund, the majority of City investment is returned to the City to be used for future affordable projects.

Never has the City had a stable source of ongoing funding for this program, which has the ability to change thousands of lives over the coming years.

My recommendations also include $656,000 dollars in rent assistance, and approximately $443,000 in programs to stabilize the most vulnerable individuals in our community—two critical components of our unprecedented efforts to prevent homelessness.

We know: without housing there can be no end to homelessness.

Together these programs have the power to create opportunities for more than 350 individuals and families—helping keep kids in their homes, in the neighborhoods they know, and at the schools they attend, creating much needed stability in their lives.

I am incredibly proud of the work the entire City has done to address the homelessness and housing crisis we are facing.

Now is our opportunity to truly build a City for Everyone, by ensuring all Salt Lakers can afford a place to call home.

Finally, I want to address the critical need of transit in Salt Lake City.

With the first ever Transit Master Plan in hand, Salt Lake City is poised to take one of the largest steps we can to clear our air and provide economic stability to residents across the Capital City.

With the adoption of the Funding Our Future proposal, significant funding will be directed to transit, continuing Salt Lake City’s legacy of leading the region and State in the future of transit.

My budget recommendation proposes allocating approximately $5.3 million dollars of funding toward the implementation of the Transit Master Plan this year.

As we move forward through the phases of this plan, residents and businesses will see a strong network of buses and services intersecting the Capital City, with particular focus on connecting our East and West Side communities with the downtown core.

In phase 1, I propose investing nearly $2.5 million dollars into the creation of a high frequency bus network along 2100 South, 900 South, 200 South, and 600 North OR 1000 North.

These routes connect major employment, education, and residential areas throughout the City, and are critical to developing a culture of transit in Salt Lake City.

With this funding, riders can expect 15 minute or better frequency Monday through Saturday between the expanded hours of 5:00 AM and midnight.

And…at long last, Sunday service.

All of this means swing shift workers and students participating in after school activities will finally be able to rely on transit to travel between home and work—getting people out of their cars and clearing our air.

The dramatically improved service is anticipated to begin on these routes on UTA’s, appropriately named, “Change Day” in August of 2019.

These service changes will require additional buses and additional capital investment.

My budget recommends allocating $400,000 to meet this need and additional funds to move toward an electrified system.

I am also proposing $1 million dollars to launch two unique programs in areas of our City which are transit deserts.

In the coming year, we will launch the Home-to-Transit program, which will cover the cost of “ride share” type services to residents on the City’s west and east sides, who are more than one quarter of a mile from a 15-minute frequency bus line.

The service will provide door-to-bus stop service, eliminating the last-mile/first-mile problem for many riders.

We will also work with businesses in Research Park and the industrial West Side to provide a similar type shuttle service for employees in these areas.

This Work-to-Transit program will be a cooperative partnership, designed to ultimately be managed and funded by willing businesses—a service which will provide these business partners and opportunity to do their part in clearing our air.

During this phase, we will also invest $1.1 million in transit infrastructure improvements, including ADA upgrades, signal improvements, and enhancing bus stops.

Again, these upgrades are a critical part of creating a culture of transit in Salt Lake City.

We should expect any culture shift to take time, but by investing today and demonstrating our ability to make effective improvements through a phased approach, we can achieve our goal and to clear the air.

More than ever before, Salt Lake City has the ability to control its own destiny.

I want to thank the thousands of residents of Salt Lake City who have seen this vision and have shown their support, through our engagement efforts of the Funding Our Future proposal and the creation of our master plans.

If adopted, the Funding Our Future proposal will place a great responsibility on me, the Council, and future leaders. One which we take seriously.

In the coming days, we will launch the first version of an on-line tracking dashboard, so you can see the proposals I have outlined, any changes made by the Council, and the ultimate impact these new funds will have.

As projects come online you will see that on our website through the Funding Our Future dashboard.

We will also continue our engagement efforts related to the bonding proposal we are exploring for the November ballot. A bond which will jump start road reconstruction throughout the City.

In closing, I want to thank the Streets Division for hosting us today—my hope is in future years you will be too busy, and these bays too full, to host us again.

Thank you all for coming and thank you to the Council for your consideration of my budget recommendation.

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