December wrapped up the Salt Lake County annual budget process and there is great news for taxpayers–no tax increase! There is more great news as the council allocated additional funding for public safety.
Over 70 percent of our nearly $500 million general fund budget goes to criminal justice. Salt Lake County runs the jail, operates behavioral health services, prosecutes criminals, and has a contract for indigent defense for those who can’t afford to defend themselves.
Some of our criminal justice expenses have increased. With the current job market, we are struggling to find and retain enough corrections officers in the jail. The council increased wages for workers in the jail in the 2022 budget.
Another criminal justice program set to launch in 2022 is the Jail Resource Reentry program. The broad goals of this program are reduction of disruptive behavior in the community after someone is released from jail. Improvement of the individual’s physical and social status and a decrease in the likelihood that the person will re-offend and reappear in the jail is the top priority. The program will concentrate on high-risk inmates being released that are homeless, mentally ill and/or suffer from substance abuse addiction to provide basic critical needs and referral to treatment. Criminal Justice Services and the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association will provide basic services, mental health and substance abuse referral services, case management, and legal services.
The County Council voted to allocate $500,000 to a new Smart Government and Efficiency Fund (SGE Fund). The purpose of this initiative is to fund ideas that demonstrate a strong return on investment, reduce operating costs, generate new revenue, and/or improve public service delivery to Salt Lake County residents. The SGE Fund establishes seed money to turn a good idea into a reality. If we do not receive ideas that meet funding criteria as outlined in this proposal, the money goes unspent and is returned to the general fund.
This year the County Council added some additional positions in the health department and voted to reduce the proposed budget for the Mayor’s administration in two areas. Two vacant positions were eliminated resulting in a savings of $180,000. Additionally, the Mayor’s contribution budget was reduced by $17,000. The County Council also evaluated their own office with a critical eye and removed two full time vacant positions from their budget.
It’s hard work to go through the second largest government budget in Utah (second only to the state budget), but I love the opportunity to do so on behalf of my constituents. Every vote I cast as a county council member comes after thoughtful consideration of how it will impact the county overall, as well the constituents whom I represent in this role. I don’t believe government can or should be everything to everyone. It should have a limited role. I also believe that it makes sense to invest in programs that will save taxpayer funds down the road, and ensure we provide good service and keep our facilities well maintained. Our economy remains strong when we practice fiscal restraint and help you keep as much of your money in your pocket as possible.
Aimee Winder Newton has been serving on the Salt Lake County Council since January 2014. She is the current chair of the council. Her district encompasses Murray, Taylorsville, West Valley City and West Jordan, and a small portion of South Salt Lake and Millcreek... [read more]
|Aimee Winder Newton||
aimee winder newton: County Council district 3