The Tooele County Commission made four adjustments to its budget, totaling an increase in spending of $1.46 million, during its meeting Wednesday evening.
After an error did not budget the funds necessary for the construction of the new Tooele County Children’s Justice Center building, the County Commission voted to include $1.4 million to cover the remaining costs from its fund balance. Chairman Tom Tripp said the expected funds required to complete the project is $1.2 million, but extra contingency money was included.
“We’re hoping not to spend that entire amount and we’ve given them a hard budget goal to stay within what we’ve apportioned,” Tripp said.
The County Commission approved a $1.42 million contract with Valley Design and Construction of Layton on June 19, 2018, for construction of the CJC building. The final cost for the project is expected to be approximately $2.1 million, according to Tripp.
The county requested $386,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds in 2017 over a two-year period. The grant funding required a match from the county, which was also responsible for the balance of construction beyond the federal funds.
While Tripp called the CJC funding snafu a difficult situation, he said the center is an important community resource. Tripp, who joined the County Commission in January after the 2019 budget was approved last December, did not assign blame to any particular party for the error.
“We lost some level of control on the budgeting and design of the building and for whatever reason, not enough money was apportioned to finish this thing,” Tripp said.
As part of the budget adjustments, the County Commission also earmarked $60,000 for the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. Chamber of Commerce executive director Jared Hamner gave a brief presentation on how the funds would be used to benefit local businesses and economic development.
Hamner spoke about examples of how the money would be used, such as training for small businesses, a new website to provide a portal for licensing, networking and other information, and outreach like local business videos.
“There’s some things that we want to implement to be able to showcase what kind of atmosphere that we have here for businesses to grow and the businesses that are here to be successful,” he said.
County Commissioner Kendall Thomas said the $60,000 was similar to the amount the county used to provide the Chamber of Commerce prior to its financial difficulties during the Great Recession.
“I appreciate the good work you’re doing,” Thomas said. “And as commissioners, we know this is an investment in our community.”
A transfer within the county’s Health Department was also included in the amendments, with $300,000 in retained funds allocated to active transportation pathways, such as trails for walking and biking. An additional $150,000 in saved revenues would be moved into the capital improvement fund for future projects.
Prior to the unanimous favorable vote on the budget adjustments, Commissioner Shawn Milne praised Thomas and Tripp, who were both elected to the County Commission last November, for creating a paper trail for the public to follow on its budget amendments.
“You guys deserve credit where credit’s due,” Milne said. “This is the way it should have been done all along. It’s 2019 and this kind of transparency is long overdue.”