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Biskupski Asks For $330 Million In Final Budget Request As Salt Lake City Mayor

Photo of City and County Building
Brian Albers / KUER

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski presented the City Council with a $330 million budget plan that calls for prioritizing funding for roads, housing, transit and police force for the 2020 fiscal year.

“The budget I am presenting to you is, in many ways, the culmination of the work we have done together,” she told council members Tuesday evening.

Biskupski announced in March she will not seek re-election, making this the final funding request of her one-term tenure.

Calling the funding plan the “best budget I’ve seen come out of this administration,” James Rogers, vice chairman of the City Council, said the proposal won’t force members to scour “under the seat cushions to see where we’re going to get the money.”

Last May, the City Council approved an initiative to increase the city’s sales tax by a penny for every $2 spent, which brought in an estimated $34.5 million.

“This is the first time we’re not looking for one-time money to balance the budget,” Rogers said. “We’re in times of feast.”

Biskupski said she intends to funnel the revenue from the sales tax into four areas: affordable housing, transit, street maintenance and repair and law enforcement.

Of the $12.5 million requested to fund law enforcement efforts, the mayor asked that $4 million go to replace the police fleet with hybrid sedans, which she estimated will prevent 825 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. She proposed an additional $500,000 to equip the force with automatically-activated body cameras.

“This technology not only brings greater public accountability, and replaces old equipment, it allows officers to focus on protecting the public during stressful and dangerous situations,” she said.

Under Biskupski’s current budget, mid-career police officers would also get a 6% salary raise. She proposed a 2% pay increase for all nonunion city employees.

The mayor also devoted a significant chunk of her proposal to efforts to revitalize the city’s parks. The mayor proposed funding new “event grounds” in Jordan Park, renovating a dilapidated fountain in Liberty Park and a $1 million restoration of the Fisher Mansion Carriage House, the home of one of Utah’s first brewers, Albert Fisher.

“With the Fisher Brewing name once again making beer in our City and more importantly, with the completion of a $7 million connector bridge adjacent to the mansion, now is the perfect time to invest in this iconic space,” the mayor announced at Tuesday’s meeting.

The mayor closed out her budget proposal by asking for $80,000 to hire a full-time census coordinator, who would work to ensure all Salt Lake City residents are counted in the 2020 census.

“With one of the most economically and racially diverse populations in Utah, Salt Lake City cannot afford to be undercounted” she said.

The proposed budget will now be reviewed by the council members, who must adopt a final version by the end of June.

Rebecca Ellis is a Kroc Fellow with NPR. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Brown University in 2018 with a Bachelor's in Urban Studies. In college, Rebecca served as a managing editor at the student newspaper, the Brown Daily Herald, and freelanced for Rhode Island's primary paper, the Providence Journal. She has spent past summers as an investigator at the Bronx Defenders, a public defender's office in the Bronx, New York, and as a reporter at the Miami Herald, filing general assignment stories and learning to scuba dive.
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