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Salt Lake City Council Raises Parking Fees, Adds Police, Trees in Budget

Brian Grimmett

The Salt Lake City council voted 5 to 1 Tuesday night to approve the city’s budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. It includes funding for more trees and more police officers. But it also comes with an increase in parking fees.

The $266 million dollar budget is about one million dollars more than the one Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker asked for.

“It’s a fat budget. It’s a wish list budget,” District four Councilor and Salt Lake City Mayoral Candidate Luke Garrott says. He was the lone “no” vote on Tuesday. Garrott says he’s pleased the city is getting at least five new police officers, but says the budget includes too many new full time positions. The city saw about a $16 million bump in revenue this year. Garrott says he’s particularly uneasy with the city hiring eight social workers to the police department.

“We just recognized all that money and hardwired it into the base budget for future years,” Garrott says. “That makes some people uneasy, including myself.”

Councilor Erin Mendenhall praised the addition of new police officers and social workers. She also applauded the council’s decision to set aside money to replace trees dying out in the city and fund three new tree maintenance positions. 

“The reality of the last decade is that the majority of those years, we aren’t replacing as many trees as are dying.”

Mendenhall says she was torn about increasing parking fees. The budget includes a new $50 fine for failing to pay at a meter. And tickets for expired meters will go from $15 to $25.

“It’s a significant amount of money that our city needs and we very quickly spend on good programming,” Mendenhall says.

Mayor Becker proposed an increase in parking fees in his budget. He argues Salt Lake City parking fees are low compared to other cities.  

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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