Salt Lake County uses federal ARPA dollars for affordable housing, water conservation and workforce development
I believe one of the most important roles for an elected official is acting as a steward of your taxpayer dollars. Residents entrust us to judiciously use funds to perform essential functions for the community, and as such residents expect that every dollar spent by the government will be carefully scrutinized. I used these principles to cast my vote for the allocation of federal ARPA dollars, which included funding for affordable housing, water conservation, and workforce development. Included are some details about each of these projects.
These funds do not come from property or sales taxes. They are funds given to counties from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocated by the federal government. These funds are meant to support COVID-19 response efforts, replace lost public sector revenue, support immediate economic stabilization, and address systemic public health and economic challenges. They cannot be used to pay down debt, lower taxes or give refunds back to taxpayers.
We know affordable housing is a huge issue. In 2021 rental costs increased by 12 percent and homeownership costs increased by 28 percent. Low to moderate household incomes have experienced significant supply and cost barriers to access safe and affordable housing. We know there is a far greater cost to society if youth end up homeless because their families can’t afford a place to live. Homelessness disrupts educational opportunities and puts them at higher risk of ending up in jail or utilizing government welfare services. This would end up costing taxpayers more than an upfront investment. Stability is key to helping young people succeed.
The Salt Lake County Council allocated $20 million dollars to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. This trust fund will leverage state and local government funding to preserve, construct, and assist 1,200 units of safe, affordable housing in Salt Lake County.
Utah is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years and water conservation is a top concern. The Salt Lake County Council allocated $2.1 million ARPA dollars to Integrated Water Conservation & Land Use Municipal Partnerships. Salt Lake County will partner with cities to implement approved water conservation plans.
The Salt Lake County Council invested $10 million dollars to implement the Workforce Inclusion and Successful Employment (WISE) program. This program is designed to identify effective solutions that empower lower income communities to get education, skills and training needed to engage in the workforce. It is the goal of the program that by 2026, a net tax impact will be shown by comparing WISE program expenses with tax savings achieved through (1) increased revenue due to higher salaries and (2) reduced expenses due to less need for government assistance.
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 believe these ARPA funds are a once in a generation opportunity to invest in projects that will provide better opportunities and outcomes for residents now and in the future.
Aimee Winder Newton has served since 2014 and represents Taylorsville, Murray, West Jordan, and West Valley City on the Salt Lake County Council. She was a former 2020 Republican candidate for Utah Governor and was the first woman elected as chair of the Council. Aimee works tirelessly to defend the quality of life in Salt Lake County while protecting tax dollars... [read more]
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aimee winder newton: County Council district 3