Salt Lake County invests $5 million in open spaceMar 09, 2023 11:38AM ● By Peri Kinder
The Salt Lake County Council’s 2023 budget invests a record $5 million to create and improve open space projects in the county. (File photo City Journals)
When the Salt Lake County Council certified its 2023 budget, it included an unprecedented $5 million investment in open space funding. The funds will be set aside to create additional trail systems, park space and improvements in the canyons.
It’s a larger amount than is historically allocated for open space because there were lots of one-time dollars available from the American Rescue Plan Act that must be used before 2024. While no specific open space projects are targeted with this funding, the council will have the funds they need to purchase properties, green-light proposals or approve expenses as projects come forward.
“As property continues to appreciate and our county eventually expands out with people coming and moving here and bringing development, we want to make sure we are ahead of the game in keeping open space for our residents,” said Salt Lake County Councilmember Aimee Newton. “We know it’s a priority for our residents to have plenty of open space to recreate outside and spend time with their families.”
An additional $85 million in ARPA funds will be used for deferred maintenance, the largest investment in deferred capital maintenance in the history of the county. Some of these projects have been put off for more than a decade and the upgrades will improve the efficiency and sustainability of county facilities.
“This year was an interesting budget because while our ongoing funds were tight with inflation and salary increases, we had a ton of one-time dollars,” Newton said. “We had a bunch of ARPA funds we had to use, and we put a lot of funds toward deferred maintenance which we know will save taxpayer dollars down the road.”
By approving the budget, the council agreed to a tax increase for the Salt Lake County Library service area. The increase will be approximately $30 per household annually, for the average home valued at $560,000. The funding will help modernize the county’s library system and address inflationary pressures. County residents have not seen an increase to the County Library tax in 10 years.
Other initiatives in the budget include funding for active transportation projects including safer sidewalks and bike lanes, waterwise upgrades to the irrigation infrastructure in county parks and facilities, and a matched grant to Centro Cívico Mexicano to support planning for a new center that will replace the aging facility.
An additional $2 million investment in the Other Side Academy Tiny Home Village will help provide solutions for the unsheltered in the county and a $2 million grant given to the Utah AIDS Foundation will support the capital costs of the foundation’s new community health center.
For more information about the Salt Lake County budget, visit SLCO.org.
“The 2023 comprehensive budget provides historic support to health, quality of life initiatives, homeless system assistance and environmental sustainability investments,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson. “Additionally, all of the county’s priority deferred maintenance was funded including much needed improvements at parks, recreation centers and buildings throughout the county system.”