Salt Lake City Council adopts annual budget and hears debate on downtown revitalization district. | News | Salt Lake City Weekly

Salt Lake City Council adopts annual budget and hears debate on downtown revitalization district. 

Washington Square Dispatch

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After weeks of deliberation, the Salt Lake City Council met on Tuesday to adopt a new budget for the 2025 fiscal year. The Council also continued a public hearing on the proposed downtown Revitalization Zone and recognized June 19 as Juneteenth and June 20 as World Refugee Day.

Budget Adoption
The Council voted to adopt a new city budget for the 2025 fiscal year. The budget, worth nearly $2 billion, “invests in our City’s present needs and assets and supports sustainable long-term growth,” the Council stated in a press release.

The Council proposed $58.1 million for the Capital Improvement Program. Their proposal includes $2 million for the Livable Streets Program, which brings traffic calming measures to neighborhood streets. Funding for that initiative was not recommended in Mayor Erin Mendenhall’s proposal.

The Council has only proposed this funding, but it will not be officially allocated until later this summer. The Council has until Sept. 1 to appropriate CIP funds and will invite public feedback to consider in their deliberations.

“We adopted a balanced budget amid unprecedented growth pressures, which only illuminated our enormous responsibility as stewards of public funds. In that vein, we aimed to care for our City and residents as we grow holistically,” said Council Chair Victoria Petro.

Other budget adjustments the Council made include additional funding for needs along the Jordan River and more funding for park maintenance and public restrooms.

The budget will also see increased rates for utilities, residential garbage colleciton and property taxes. The estimated monthly impact for residents is $34.43. The Council will hold a Truth in Taxation hearing on Aug. 20—state law requires cities to hold Truth in Taxation hearings when taxing entities raise their fees to generate more revenue than they made the previous year.

“I just want to quickly acknowledge and thank every single person on both Council staff as well as with the administration who made this budget process possible,” Councilmember Sarah Young said following the budget’s adoption. The new budget will take effect on July 1 and run until June 30, 2025.

Sports and Entertainment District
The Council continued a public hearing on the Capitol City Revitalization Plan. The Utah Legislature passed SB272 earlier this year, establishing a process for creating this zone. According to this legislation, the revitalization zone cannot exceed 100 acres and will be centered around redevelopment of the Delta Center, which is set to host an NHL team after the Arizona Coyotes were acquired by the Smith Entertainment Group, or SEG. The city has until Sept. 1 to reach a development agreement with SEG, the project’s applicant, according to the Legislation.

To fund the project, the City is considering a 0.5% sales tax increase, allowed by SB272. According to the City’s website on the project, the increase could generate approximately $54 million yearly. The higher tax could last for up to 30 years, but would not apply to groceries, motorhomes or cars.

For the protection of taxpayers, access to the funds can be cut off and repaid if the developer agreement is broken, according to state code.

Jayson Edwards, founder of J Dawgs, discussed the unique hardships his South Temple location is facing.

"At each of the stores we have major peaks and lunch and dinner except for our downtown store,” Edwards said. “We started closing the store early because there is so little afternoon and evening traffic. Saturday is our slowest day in Salt Lake by far, but the busiest in every other store across the state."

Edwards called downtown Salt Lake “a shell of its former self,” and said he is excited for the revitalization plan and its potential.

Meanwhile, Rocky Anderson, former Salt Lake City mayor, spoke against the plan.

“In Tempe, Arizona voters were allowed to vote on a proposal for a new hockey arena and entertainment district,” Anderson began. “They voted it down overwhelmingly. Voters knew there were other, far more important priorities for their community, as there are in our community.”

Anderson pointed to SEG’s lack of major development experience, calling the plan “garish.”

The Council closed the public hearing after hearing everyone speak but urged constituents to continue sharing their thoughts with the Council via email or phone.

“We are hearing you,” Councilmember Dan Dugan said after the last speaker.

Juneteenth and World Refugee Day
The Council voted unanimously to adopt two joint ceremonial resolutions with Mayor Erin Mendenhall. The first resolution recognized June 19 and Juneteenth Freedom Day in Salt Lake.

“Juneteenth provides an opportunity for Salt Lake City to celebrate Black American heritage and honor the lives, sacrifices and contributions that are woven into the American fabric, while also committing to do our part to help build a more equitable community,” Petro read from the resolution.

Following the resolution’s adoption, Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, took a moment to thank the Council.

“We’re living in a day and time in which we want to sanitize our history, we want to dress it up and make it seem pretty,” Hollins said. “We know that that is not the truth, but we also want to celebrate the resilience of our ancestors.”

Betty Sawyer, executive director of Project Success Coalition and Charlotte Starks, president of Nubian Storytellers of Utah Leadership, also spoke to and thanked the Council for the resolution.

The second resolution recognized June 20 as World Refugee Day.

“The global refugee crisis remains one of the most pressing humanitarian challenges of our time, with millions of people being uprooted from their communities, leaving behind everything they know and love and seeking safety and a better future for themselves and their families,” Councilmember Eva Lopez Chavez read from the resolution.

Mario Kljajo, director of the Utah Refugee Services Office, spoke on the resolution after the Council adopted it.

“As a refugee who came here to Salt Lake and the state of Utah in 1997, I wanted to be here personally to offer my gratitude and say thank you for the resolution tonight,” Kljajo said.

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