The guns and knives have been holstered and sheathed, and peace reigns in the Salt Lake budget fight.
Tuesday Mayor Deedee Corradini and City Council Chairman Keith Christensen announced an accord in their "philosophical differences" that have taken so much of their time in the past several weeks regarding how much money to put toward infrastructure improvement and how much in services such as police and fire.Funny how things work out. After all that Sturm und Drang, a savior has arrived in the form of $1.2 million in additional revenue, making the whole issue moot.
When Salt Lake County sent out its certified tax rates Tuesday, the numbers revealed that the city would receive a large unexpected infusion of cash, primarily arising from property taxes on new growth. That allows city officials to restore several city employee positions -- most controversial, police officers and firefighters -- that the council had cut in the face of Corradini's strident protests.
"We're all thrilled," Corradini said. "It's what's best for Salt Lake City."
While some positions remain eliminated, such as a police department secretary, every sworn officer position has been restored.
"I feel great about it," said firefighter union president Jay Magure. "Bottom line now is we can all smile and go on."
Police officer union president David Greer was out of town and unavailable for comment. Both union presidents had mightily protested the proposed cuts.
Other things that were restored include a computer technician position, parking meter replacement, a tuition aid program and an annual employee holiday luncheon.
Corradini had taken particular exception to the elimination of the luncheon, saying it was counterproductive for the council to eliminate something so good for employee morale.
What sparked the debate was the council's desire to put more general fund money into capital improvements or the infrastructure. A recent study concluded that the city has a huge backlog of infrastructure needs -- roads, parks -- and will need $630 million in the next few years to get caught up. It recommended putting 9 percent of general fund money into infrastructure.
In the budget Corradini presented to the council in April, she recommended 5 percent, saying an infusion of one-time monies such as the $8.1 million sale of a Main Street block to the LDS Church made more unnecessary. The council disagreed, putting an additional $2.1 million into capital improvements at the expense of various cuts in service department budgets. That increased the general fund contribution to 7 percent, with the council vowing to put it and keep it at 9 percent next year.
As soon as Corradini got the certified tax rates around noon on Tuesday and realized their impact, she called Christensen and the two worked through the afternoon to hammer out an accord. Christensen said he has talked with all but one of the council members, all of whom agree with his approach.
The council is scheduled to tentatively ratify the agreement Thursday, with a final vote July 6.
"It's amazing what money can do," Magure said.