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Biskupski's First Budget as Mayor Targets Infrastructure, Debt

Whittney Evans

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s first city budget proposal focuses on paying off debt and fixing basic infrastructure like roads and storm drains.

In her budget speech Tuesday night, Mayor Biskukpski asked city residents and the council to acknowledge some quote “hard truths” about the city’s budget. She said spending has outpaced ongoing revenue sources and while it has a AAA bond rating, this year the city will start making higher payments on debts related to capital projects.

“City residents have known for some time that we must turn our focus to the basics, our needs and not our wants,” Biskupski said.

The $259 million dollar budget is balanced. It cuts back on the use of one-time funds by $1 million dollars. It would increase overall road and sidewalk funding by 50 percent and provide salary increases to bring all city employees to market rate.

Biskupski said she was not interested in the sales tax option available to the city through the construction of the new state prison. But she has other ideas for bringing more money into city coffers.

“It’s time for the capital city to embrace our role in the state’s economy and move forward as true leaders in economic development,” Biskupski said.

Biskupski also proposed an amnesty program to allow for reductions in unpaid parking tickets, in exchange for a donations to local non-profits. It’s for people with citations issued before July 1, 2014.

Council Chair James Rogers said he was happy with the major points of Biskupski’s speech, but the council still has to review the budget in detail over the next few weeks.

“It was interesting to hear her talk about roads and infrastructure. That’s one of our council priorities is infrastructure,” Rogers said. “And looking how we’ll fund that moving forward is key for us.”

Public hearings on the budget will be held throughout the month of May and the beginning of June. The city council must approve the budget by June 22nd

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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