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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Largest County Budget Contributors, Part 2 of 5

This is part two in the discussion of the five biggest portions of our Salt Lake County budget.

Municipal Government

In addition to having six of the top 10 largest cities in Utah, it is important to note that Salt Lake County also provides municipal services to all unincorporated areas of the county, which equates to being the second largest city in the state. This area includes Millcreek, Magna, Kearns, White City, and the canyons, among others. While the Mayor is elected by, and represents, all of Salt Lake County residents, he also acts as the municipal mayor for all of these unincorporated areas and townships. Likewise, the County Council also acts as the council for this municipality.

The reach of the county’s municipal service is extensive and we pride ourselves on our positive reputation. Every city in Salt Lake County, in fact, contracts with the county for at least one municipal service (i.e. traffic lights, paving roads, plowing snow). This money comes from the Municipal Services Fund, which is different from the county’s General Fund. The General Fund is used for countywide projects, like Aging Services, flood control, etc. The Office of Township Services, created in 2013, is specifically charged with acting as the city government for the unincorporated areas. Some of their responsibilities include transportation planning, engineering, economic development, justice court services, animal services, and municipal park services.

Total Municipal Services: $50,256,247

Friday, April 17, 2015

Largest County Budget Contributors - Part 1 of 5

I am often asked why Salt Lake County’s budget is so large compared to other counties. Salt Lake County is, by far, the largest county in the state. With a population of 1.1 million residents, we account for over 40 percent of the population of the state of Utah. As a fiscally conservative state, Utahns care deeply about where their hard-earned money is going. Over the next few weeks these blog posts will explain the five biggest budget expenses in Salt Lake County. Some of the topics may overlap. For example, criminal justice is nearly a quarter of our annual budget ($275 million) but it overlaps a number of agencies within the county (namely public safety and human services). Here is some budget info on the jail and public safety:

Jail and Public Safety

Salt Lake County is home to six of the top 10 largest cities in the state. Because Salt Lake County is the financial, government, and, to a large degree, cultural hub of the state, crime has a natural tendency to be more prevalent. Compare Davis County, for example; Davis County (population 306,000) has 800 jail beds. Salt Lake County has approximately 2,200 jail beds. 

In addition to the main Metro Jail in South Salt Lake, the Oxbow Jail houses inmates for therapeutic justice programs that help those inmates with substance abuse issues. Salt Lake County allocates $76 million to operate the county jail with another $14.4 million allocated to the Sheriff for court services (bailiffs, security, etc.). Compare that with Davis County at $18.2 million and Utah County at $30 million. In addition to operating the jail, the County also appropriates $13.3 million in countywide investigative and support services. Both the Metro Jail and Oxbow are located within District 3.
Total Jail, bond payments, and Public Safety:  $114,161,809