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Midvale Journal

How COVID-19 is affecting Midvale

Apr 27, 2020 01:46PM ● By Erin Dixon

Midvale City Council meetings are held remotely under the stay-at-home directive, with everyone tuning in from their home or office. (Erin Dixon/City Journals)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

As jobless claims rise around the country, and as many businesses have been forced to close, Midvale City has been hit financially just as everyone else.

Finance Director Kyle Maurer informed the Midvale City Council that the budget was going to be tighter than previously hoped. The city relies on three sources of income: property tax, sales tax and fees.

“We are expecting an 8% drop in sales tax,” Maurer said.

With so much financial uncertainty, the council is looking for ways to cut costs.

City Manager Kane Loader wants employee layoffs to be the last resort.

“We had to do layoffs I believe in 2010. We’ve learned a lot from that, that’s something we don’t want to do. That’s the last resort in my mind,” he said.

“This is a dire situation for a lot of cities,” Loader said. “We have been blessed that we have a very diverse sales tax base. We’ve got a sales tax base in almost every area. Our building supply places in Midvale have been doing very well. Our food supply stores are doing very well.”

However, cuts still need to be made. Other avenues the city might take are closing positions that are not yet filled, reducing operating budgets for each department, and delaying projects.

Councilmember Paul Glover said, “There’s a lot of things we really need to discuss… If we’re cutting all of our departments, probably the Arts Council and some of those others are going to have somewhat of a cutback.”

Even with revenues decreasing, Unified Police Department is asking for an increase of contributions from each of the cities it services. They are asking for an additional $500,000 this coming fiscal year (July 2020-June 2021), 6% more than last year. UPD also raised their costs last year in an attempt to keep up with the market demands for police officers.

“You always have the option to go to truth in taxation and say, ‘OK, we’ve got to cover this cost for UPD and it’s going to cost each resident about $60 a month to cover this. Are you willing to do that or do you want us to do something else?’” Loader said.

“Something else” could be Midvale operating their own police force instead of contracting with UPD.

City Councilmembers were divided over the possibility of a tax increase.

Glover stated he wasn’t sure the city would be able to cover costs and increased pay to UPD during the next year without a tax increase since the city is losing money much at the same time.

But, “with the way it is, we can’t raise taxes. UPD needs to make cuts too for this time that we’re going through,” he said.

Councilmember Bryant Brown also expressed frustration at the increase from UPD. 

“We really need to open up a much bigger discussion with the city,” he said. “I have a huge problem with the notion that we’re going on back to back years on fund balance.”

“If we don't handle this now, I don’t know if we’re ever going to without a massive, massive increase.”

UPD asked for an increase in 2019, which inspired a lot of conversation in May and June of that year. (see link for more information about the increase from UPD last year here.)

Maurer said at the end of the discussion that, “We’re still expecting about a $1 million decrease in revenue. We recommend to the City Council that we go through truth in taxation.”

Budget discussions will continue through May and June before a final decision is made before July 1. If there will be a truth in taxation meeting, that will occur in August.