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Council Okays Fireworks, Pay Raises in 2014-2015 Budget

Salt Lake City’s summer fireworks shows will resume this year, a fire station on the city’s west side is saved from the chopping block and city employees can expect a pay raise. Those are some of the key items the Salt Lake City Council approved in the 2014-2015 budget.

The council’s final budget held fairly close to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s proposal. With the help of last year’s property tax increase, city employees will get a 3 percent pay increase and a chunk of the city’s maintenance backlog will be addressed.

“All of our most important divisions are fully intact and moving forward with the same level of quality,” says Salt Lake City District 2 Councilman Kyle LaMalfa.

But instead of cutting funding for all public fireworks shows in the city to improve air quality as the mayor intended in his budget proposal, LaMalfa says the council funded the approximately $40,000 celebrations, but agreed to nix the displays if the air surpasses a certain pollution threshold.

“We’re going to know a few days in advance if air quality is getting worse and on that day if it’s getting really bad, we’re not going to contribute to the worsening of the pollution by having a fireworks show,” LaMalfa says.

In addition, Mayor Becker proposed closing down fire station 9 near the Salt Lake City International Airport and reassigning those employees as it only averages about 2 calls per day.

“The council decided to go in a different direction and keep fire station 9 open,” LaMalfa says. “And make sure that we have an equivalent level of service or an equitable level of service across the city, whether you’re far on the east side, or far on the west side, you’re going to have a fire engine that’s going to respond quickly to your emergency.”

The $220 million plus budget also includes additional money for homeless services, including expanding hours at the Weigand Center and a new program that pays homeless people to pick up trash on city streets. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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