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An Overview of How Summit County is Doing Financially and What’s Coming up in 2016

While I know a lot of people don’t like to delve too deeply into numbers, Summit County’s annual budget process is a great time to better understand both how we are doing financially and what the government spending plans are for the next year. We as citizens care about our county’s finances because A) Most of us live in the county (as opposed to just in Park City proper) and B) it strongly impacts our daily lives through everything from roads to the safety provided by the Sheriff’s department. Five years ago things weren’t so great in Summit County. Revenues were down, the bank account was nearing empty, roads weren’t able to be repaired, the Sheriff’s Department had reduced staff.

As we head into 2016, it appears we are in much better shape than five years ago. While by most measures, 2015 appears to be a tad stronger year, according to the County Manager’s budget presentation, things look pretty good:

  • Property taxes are about 30% higher than in 2007
  • Sales taxes are up by $2.7 million since 2011 lows
  • Licenses and permits are back to pre recession levels

As for upcoming projects in 2016, the Manager’s Recommended Budget lists quite a few possibilities:

  • Road Construction
    • Silver Creek Ranch ($1.6 MM)
    • Jeremy Ranch interchange ($800 K)
    • Parkview ($950 K)
    • Other Countywide Roadwork($800 K)
  • Facilities
    • Kamas Service Building that includes DMV, Library,and Health facilities($5.1 MM)
    • Fairground ($2.4 MM)
    • Continuation of an Animal Control project ($400 K)
    • Solar Initiatives ($2 MM)

The Manager also is recommending six new positions:

  • Sheriff Administration Lieutenant
  • Corrections Road Crew Deputy
  • Public Works Administration Assistant
  • Facilities Secretary
  • Environmental Health Administrator
  • Storm Water Coordinator

While I’m sure some individuals may have a concern or two with various parts of the recommendation, overall it looks fairly solid. My only overall concern is the drawing down of fund balances to levels set by an executive orders in 2014. My concern is that it appears we are headed toward a recession. Whether this is a garden variety 6 month affair or something more akin to 2009, I have no idea. What I do know is that it’s important to save for a rainy day while times are good. So perhaps it would make sense to find a way to cut back just a bit on some spending to keep fund balances high, if possible.

By no means is the budget final. We are just at the beginning stages as county departments present their needs to the County Council. By the end of December the County Council will make a final decision. Between now and then if you have any feedback, I’m sure they would welcome it. you can email the council here.

For more information and specific numbers, below are three documents the County Provided:

Introduction to the 2016 Budgeting Process
County Manager’s Transmittal Letter
Presentation of 2016 Manager’s Budget


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