Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

December 6, 2018
County OKs $40.8M general budget for 2019

Budget includes $12.5M in capital planned projects 

The 2019 Tooele County budget will bring more employees to the county, a variety of capital improvement projects, and a possible property tax increase.

The Tooele County Commission adopted the budget for the 2019 year during its Tuesday meeting at the Tooele County Building.

The county’s general fund expenses for 2019 are up by $8 million, from $32.8 million in 2018 to $40.8 million in 2019, not including the $10.35 million of expenses related to the sale of Utah Motorsports Campus.

The general fund budget for 2019 shows $18.55 million revenue from the sale of UMC. However, the 2019 budget also shows a $10.35 million expense for legal fees and closing costs associated with the racetrack’s sale. 

That $10.35 million includes reimbursement for operating costs, capital purchases, and a management fee accrued over the last three years while the buyer has been running the track on behalf of the county.

The $1.55 million legal settlement paid to the rejected UMC buyer in 2018 was booked as an expense in the 2018 budget.

The general fund budget includes budgets for all county elected offices, human resources, facilities, information technology, justice court, the Children’s Justice Center, public safety, weed control, and parks and recreation.

Several department heads explained during Tuesday’s meeting that additional personnel or increases in pay countywide for employees contributed to the bulk of their requests for additional spending.

County employees — including elected officials — will receive a 1.2 percent cost of living increase in wages and up to a 1 percent merit increase based on a satisfactory performance evaluations in 2019.

There were no increases in 2019 for health, dental, life insurance, or retirement benefits for county employees.

The Tooele County Sheriff will build up its staff with two new road deputies, one additional dispatcher, one more jail deputy, one new bailiff, and an addtional civilian employee at the Tooele County Detention Center.

In addition to the new employees for the Sheriff’s Department, the budget for animal control will be increased to extend the number of days stray animal are kept before being euthanized, from the statutory minimum of three days to five days, according to Sheriff Paul Wimmer.

The budget for the Tooele County Commission office will increase by 8.1 percent, from $758,409 to $819,894.

The increase in the County Commission’s office budget includes the addition of a budget officer and a secretary.

County Commissioner Myron Bateman opposed taking the budget duties away from the County Auditor and placing them in the County Commission office under a hired budget officer when he ran for County Commission four years ago.

One year ago, when Bateman proposed separating the County Clerk/Auditor into two full-time elected positions, he said there would be no need for a budget officer with the offices separated.

But the upcoming change in the form of county government has changed Bateman’s mind about the budget officer.

“I think they are going to need that additional staff to help with the change in the form of government,” Bateman said.

In the reorganization of the County Clerk and Auditor’s offices, the County Clerk will lose one employee to the auditor’s office. In addition to the employee from the clerk’s office, the 2019 budget includes funding for the salary for the elected auditor and one hired deputy auditor.

The County Assessor will hire another appraiser to keep with the demand for new and reappraisals. The appraisal staff has been accumulating comp time and working overtime, according to Tooele County Assessor Wendy Shubert.

The County Attorney will add one new attorney and one new support position to his staff in 2019 to help manage an increasing caseload.

“Even with these additions, we will still have fewer employees than we had prior to 2013,” said County Attorney Scott Broadhead.

The County Attorney’s office handled over 1,800 criminal cases in 2018. It also provides legal support to all county departments, Broadhead said.

The facilities department will add a maintenance specialist to its crew, according to Mark McKendrick, Tooele County Facilities, Parks, and Recreation director.

The Community Development Department will add one support employee, according to Community Development Director Rachelle Custer.

The 2019 capital projects fund budget grew from $4.4 million in 2018 to $12.5 million in 2019, according to the approved budget.

Capital projects fund revenue for 2019 includes a $9.4 million transfer from the general fund. That’s $7.4 million more than was transferred to capital projects from the general fund in 2018. 

The municipal services fund will transfer $2.2 million to the capital project fund in 2019, according to the approved budget.

Major projects included in the 2019 capital projects budget are: $5 million for a Midvalley sewer trunk; $2 million for a new road that runs from Droubay to state Route 36 south of Cimmarron Way — including a signalized intersection at SR-36; and $1.5 million for Pole Canyon Road.

Additional projects include: $1.4 million for a railroad crossing on South Mountain Road; $750,000 for Stansbury Parkway East for gravel truck traffic; $525,000 for a water reuse project at Deseret Peak Complex; $500,000 for an environmental study for Midvalley Highway Phase II; and $200,000 for Village Boulevard East.

The Tooele County Health Department budget dropped from $6 million in 2018 to $5.5 million in 2019. The decrease was largely due to a reduction or expiration of grant revenue, according to Health Department Director Jeff Coombs.

“We are down three employees,” he said. “Two by not replacing people that left and one through a reduction-in-force.”

The Deseret Peak Complex Fund is budgeted for almost $2 million in operating expenses in 2019. Revenue from operations at the complex are expected to be $464,400 in 2019. The county general fund will transfer $886,784 to the Deseret Peak Complex Fund.

The Solid Waste and Airport funds are separate, self-supporting enterprise funds and receive no revenue from the county general fund.

In 2019 the Wendover Airport fund budget will increase from $6.4 million to $7.6 million. It is expected to end 2019 with a $94,000 surplus. 

A new airport master plan, fence, and runway rehabilitation project will be paid by Federal Aviation Administration grants and from the airport fund balance or retained earnings.

The Solid Waste fund budget will decrease from $3.8 million in 2018 to $3.3 million in 2019, even though costs are going up due to increased volume of waste and higher tipping fees at the regional landfill.

In addition to approving the 2019 budget Tuesday, the County Commission also approved resolutions that will allow the new County Commission to increase the county general property tax levy, the county health department property tax levy, and the county municipal type services property tax levy by up to 5 percent. The commission also adopted a resolution allowing the county assessing and collecting property tax levy to be raised by up to 10 percent.

The property tax levy increases are estimated to generate revenue over what was collected in 2018 by up to $288,494 for the general levy, $37,466 for the health department levy, $179,959 for the assessing and collecting levy, and $105,726 for the municipal type services levy.

The actual tax rates and additional revenue collected for 2019 will be set by the County Commission after June 2019 when updated information on property values becomes available.

 

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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