10.1% increase in spending, delayed tax process in ’22 Summit County budget recommendation

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — Summit County Manager Tom Fisher is recommending $65.1 million (31.3% increase) for operating funds in the 2022 Summit County budget.

In a staff report to the county council, Summit County Financial Officer Matt Leavitt said that due to the swift Covid rebalancing and overperforming sales tax and fee revenues —  “the County is in an even more sound financial  position going into 2022 than it was before 2020.”

The county’s 2020 budget shifted drastically following the emergence of the pandemic. At the end of April, the original 2020 budget of $61.4 million was reduced by 12.8% to $54.2 million.

“It is a testament to this organization’s fiscal management that it is in the position in 2022 to increase service levels in order to react to overwhelming community needs in our most basic services,” Leavitt said in the report.

Estimated revenues for 2022 are $65.1 million, an increase of $6.0 million or 10.1%. The anticipated revenues for 2022 reflect the actual amounts received in 2020 and 2021.

“Over $1.4 million is budgeted to come from surplus funds that were accumulated as a result of budget amendments made early in  2020 as a result of the COVID‐19 pandemic shutting down significant industries within the local economy,” the report said.

Fisher is recommending the county delay the Truth in Taxation (TNT) process, which is a procedure established by the Utah State Legislature where city and county governments and school districts are required to hold a public hearing and inform taxpayers of increases prior to (county council) voting on them before making changes.

Fisher wants the county to favor utilizing fund balances for operations in 2022.

The other variable the council is considering is that their top priority during this election season is to see the open space have a successful vote in the 2021 election.

“Pursuing both TNT and the Bond election could be counterproductive,” the report said.

“The Manager’s recommended budget is $3.3 million (9.1 percent) increase in tax revenues. This is an increase in anticipated property tax revenues, adjusted for property tax revenues billed in 2021 ($27.1 million, or 4.1 percent) as well as sales tax revenues ($1.3 million, or 11.2 percent).”

  • Revenues from licenses and permits are estimated at $2.7 million, an increase of over 25%
  • Estimated revenues from public health grants are $318 thousand higher (8.5 percent) than the 2021 amended budget amounts. The budget does not reflect the anticipated $8.0 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grants.
  • Revenues from fees are estimated to be 7.2% higher ($460 thousand) as a result of revenues from recorder fees as well as attorney fees. An interlocal agreement with High Valley Transit District (HVTD) allows the county to charge for services provided by the county to HVTD.

TownLift reported in September that Summit County was considering a tax increase.

Recommended spending:

  • 28.2 increase for public works
  • 18.5% increase in public health
  • 4.1% increase for government services
  • 2.3% increase in public safety — “An estimated $380 thousand represents the adjustment made as a result of the Council adopting a new step increase program for sworn officers. This was implemented in order to recruit and retain officers in an aggressive labor market. The results of the recruitment effort have been very positive.”

The recommended budget also includes the addition of the following positions:

  • Recorder Deputy in the Recorder’s Office
  • County Investigator in the Attorney’s Office, to be used to assist with School Resource Officers
  • Code Enforcement Officer in Community Development;
  • Stormwater Inspector in Engineering, paid for from MS4 permits;
  • Two Patrol Deputies, to provide additional services across the County
  • Evidence Technician, to offset overtime hours used by a current Dispatcher used as a fill‐in;
  • Corrections Nurse, to assist with overtime and liability issues in the Corrections Division
  • Tobacco Health Educator, funded by Public Health grants
  • Maintenance Technician, to address additional facility maintenance needs
  • Equipment Operator, to assist with roads maintenance and snow plowing.

The county council will not be taking any action at this time. Fisher’s recommendation kicks off the council’s  2022 budget deliberations that will occur in November in preparation for consideration and public hearings during the first two weeks of December.

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