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Midvale Journal

Will drop in sales tax affect The Road Home shelter in Midvale?

Oct 21, 2020 12:42PM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Midvale has been home to a family homeless shelter, The Road Home, for many years. The city funds some of the shelter’s needs, and the state collects sales tax from other cities that do not have shelters and gives those funds to the cities that do. Salt Lake City, South Salt Lake and Midvale are some that do have shelters. 

Midvale Mayor Robert Hale reported in a city council meeting in August that, “[The state has] reduced our funds, everybody’s funds, for the homeless work that we do. The year we just finished we had $1.38 million and we expended 100% of that.”

Midvale City Manager Kane Loader explained that the potential cut is a prediction, not a guarantee.

“A lot of it depends on sales tax and how the economy goes. A portion of it comes from cities from all across the state. They contribute a portion of their sales tax,” Loader said. 

When Gov. Gary Herbert issued the stay at home order in March, Midvale City predicted that  residents purchasing habits would change and sales tax income would drop. 

“We were projecting along with the state and the rest of the cities 8-10% decrease in sales tax. Our numbers came in pretty close, just a little bit under. [And] that’s what we’ve heard from other cities,” Loader said. 

If sales tax remains at pre-pandemic levels, Midvale should receive the regular funding. If funds do in fact decrease, what happens then?

“If the levels come down to what the mayor was talking about we’re going to have to go back to the state and say, ‘You’ve got to help us,’ or we’re going to have to cut services. We feel like a pretty good job with dealing with homeless problems in the city but if you take away [services or] officers we’re no longer going to be able to do that,” Loader said. 

“Along with our lobbyists, South Salt Lake, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County [are] exploring what is causing the funding to drop.”

History of Midvale’s homeless shelter

In the late 1990s, there was a warehouse in the city that was not being used. The homeless shelter in Salt Lake City needed an overflow for men. Individuals experiencing homelessness were bused to Midvale only at night and only during the coldest months of the year.

Midvale welcomed the part-time homeless shelter, covering the winter months. After several years, sheltering for families was needed and the homeless shelter in SLC purchased the warehouse in Midvale and built a new shelter, intending to operate it 24/7, 365 days a year. 

At the time, the property was not zoned for that type of full-time use, and Midvale declined the proposal to open the new shelter full time. The new facility was built but remained open only part time. 

The shelter leaders then went to the state government to force Midvale to accept full-time use. 

“They went to the legislature right after they got the building done and basically legislated the facility to be open year round. They squashed Midvale’s zoning ordinance and planning authority,” Loader said. 

Midvale’s police force was asked to respond to many additional calls when the shelter was active. 

“During those months it was open, we responded to a lot of homeless situations,” Loader said. 

The shelter provides necessary services, but its operation still requires funding. Midvale needed extra funding to keep up with the demand.

“During those months it was open we responded to a lot of homeless situations. The city went back to the legislature and said, ‘if you’re going to do this you’ve got to help us,’” Loader said.

The city receives about $1.3 million from the collection of sales tax from most cities in the state, and an additional $200,000 from a state grant. 

The Road Home in Midvale operates continually as a family center. Details of future funding will be reported when available.