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Mayor McAdams Unveils $1.2B County Budget Proposal, Prioritizing Safety, Homelessness

Julia Ritchey/KUER
County Mayor Ben McAdams speaking about his proposed 2017 budget on Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams unveiled his proposed 2017 budget on Tuesday.



The $1.2 billion budget proposal includes spending for what McAdams’ says are top priorities for the county: criminal justice reform and public safety.


Speaking to a packed audience at the county council chambers, McAdams said he’s presenting a balanced budget that will not increase taxes.


“So, council members, this is a conservative budget, but one that I believe will make a difference in the lives of the people we are elected to serve. We are accountable for every dollar. And we are determined to achieve the maximum results we can.”


Among new investments, McAdams is proposing a $39 million performing arts theater for Taylorsville and $2.1 million for IT upgrades.


He says he’d also like to to continue efforts to reduce homelessness and keep at-risk individuals out of jail through two “Pay For Success” programs launching soon. This model, which is also supported by private donations, will partner with local nonprofits to address chronic homelessness.


Still, McAdams acknowledged that new property and sales tax income has increased the county’s revenue by about 2 percent, it’s still not enough to cover everything.


“Inflationary increases to expenses such as  health care and wages far outpace our new growth revenue. Once again, we must find efficiencies and streamline our budget in order to live within our means.”


To that end, McAdams wants to steer more employees into their high deductible health plan and eliminate the 1.5 percent contribution to retirement plans for some longtime employees.


But this year’s budget proposal includes a 3 percent raise for the county’s 3,000 employees.


Now it’s up to council to look over the budget over the next few weeks. A final vote is expected in December.

View the full budget here.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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