Provo City’s proposed budget cuts costs to cope with pandemic

Preston Crawley
In this Feb. 18 photo, the Provo City Council meets to discuss the issue of microbreweries in the city. The proposed 2020-2021 Provo city budget will be voted on during a virtual city council meeting on May 19 (Preston Crawley)

Provo Mayor Michele Kaufusi presented the proposed 2020-2021 budget in a city council meeting on May 5. The council will vote today to tentatively adopt the budget and set up public hearings.

The traditional process of making the city’s budget was interrupted this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, and those involved tried to account for the changing circumstances as they set the budget.

“Our revenue forecasts were looking great. Life was a breeze. Then a pandemic hit, taking the lives of many and stopping the rest of us in our tracks,” said Mayor Kaufusi in a letter to the Provo Municipal Council.

The proposed budget says the city anticipates a 5% loss in sales tax revenue compared to previous trends. City officials asked all the departments except police and fire to make 1.5% cuts to their budgets to compensate for any revenue losses.

The city also implemented a “soft hiring freeze” to offset costs as well. This hiring freeze will require the mayor’s approval of all hires.

In addition to these measures to cut back on spending, the city will be drawing from the funds it has saved up in its “rainy-day fund.”

“I think it would be wrong to put a padlock on our rainy-day funds just when the thunder is clapping. Instead, I want to show our employees that their scrimping and saving while the sun was shining will pay off for them now in their night of rain,” said Mayor Kaufusi in a letter to the Provo Municipal council.

The budget also includes $406,214 of funded department requests. These requests include the following items:

  • $55,766 for one new police officer position. This new officer will be assigned to schools in the Provo School District
  • $11,000 for a new cardio monitor system to be used by ambulance crews
  • $15,000 for ADA improvements including painting or repainting signage, installing signage and grab bars in restrooms and reducing sidewalk cross slopes
  • $100,000 for expanded child care services at the Recreation Center
  • $74,448 for a new airport security position
  • $150,000 for updating the city’s General Plan

A few items normally funded will be passed over this year due to the pandemic. These include the sick pay buyout policy for city employees, market adjustments to city pay grades and additional funding for the Recreation Center and other facilities.

Provo residents are encouraged to review the budget and voice their concerns to city staff. The budget will be discussed at tonight’s city council meeting which starts at 5:30 p.m. The meeting can be viewed on the Provo City Council YouTube channel.

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