Biskupski Rolls out 2017 Budget | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Biskupski Rolls out 2017 Budget

... and mum's the word on Rio Grande.

Posted By on May 2, 2017, 10:06 PM

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click to enlarge On the topic of homelessness, the mayor promised $2.1M to assist agencies with their service needs. - ENRIQUE LIMÓN/FILE
  • Enrique Limón/FILE
  • On the topic of homelessness, the mayor promised $2.1M to assist agencies with their service needs.
Rose Park golfers, solar power advocates, homeless women gardeners and pothole victims had something  to praise in Mayor Jackie Biskupski's 2017-18 budget recommendations on Tuesday night.

The rest of the citizenry, however, learned of phased hikes on sewer rates, and a proposed property tax increase for the library.

Front and center was a proposed new sewer treatment plant to replace the existing 50-year-old facility. "Even after the increases [over five years in sewer rates], estimated bills in Salt Lake City will be lower than most cities in our area," she said.

To balance out to some degree those hikes and a phased increase from a proposed property tax for the library, the city was freezing increases in street lighting and refuse.

In a city plagued with tire-destroying pot holes, Biskupski said $1.9 million had been allocated toward "shovel ready projects, with road and street repair projects receiving priority." That means $8 million is going to roads, sidewalks and streets in 2017.

Another large scale project the mayor announced on the back of moving the Rose Park Golf course into the general fund to guarantee its future, is creating what she called "a northwest recreation area" by connecting the course with the Regional Athletic Complex and Jordan River Disc golf.

To keep the fires burning under her pledge to shift SLC's energy wants to renewables by 2032 and cut carbon output by a whopping 80 percent by 2040, Biskupski highlighted a solar farm she wants to see happen with  partner Rocky Mountain Power. She promised $100,000 to kickstart the early stages and another $200,000 for low-income households could access  what she called "energy efficiency technology."

Homelessness, a topic that has come to dominate her first term like no other, saw Biskupski commit $2.1 million to "assist agencies with service needs and provide mitigation efforts."

The city has increased ongoing funding for homeless needs by around $1.5 million, which would include covering winter shelter at St Vincent's and winter motel vouchers.

She also pledged another $650,000, which she expects the County to match, to continue with Operation Diversion, the controversial program that sees law enforcement periodically offer large groups picked up around the shelter the options of treatment or jail.

Affordable housing got a shot in the arm from the RDA budget of $3 million to add to money the city council has already put aside to build up a desperately need housing stock.

One notable absence from her speech was any reference to the four homeless resource centers the city and the county are committed to opening in the valley to take up at least some of the bed space lost when the city plans to shutter the Rio Grande shelter in 2019.

For those waiting to see progress on promises to spruce up State Street, Biskupski proposed $200,000 to kickstart new project areas, including State.

Meanwhile she earmarked $50,000 to pay the salary of a Wasatch Community Gardens professional gardeners to teach homeless women the art of the green thumb.

Now it's over to the city council in May and June to debate the mayor's recommendations.

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