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Salt Lake County mayor proposes use of $64.3M federal pandemic funding

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson discusses schoolchildren and masks at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Aug. 10. Wilson on Thursday announced her plans for the use of $64.3 million in federal pandemic funding along with the 2022 budget to help the community continue its pandemic recovery.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson discusses schoolchildren and masks at the Salt Lake County Government Center in Salt Lake City on Aug. 10. Wilson on Thursday announced her plans for the use of $64.3 million in federal pandemic funding along with the 2022 budget to help the community continue its pandemic recovery. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson on Thursday announced her plans for the use of $64.3 million in federal pandemic funding in the 2022 budget to help the community continue its pandemic recovery.

"This budget is a road map for Salt Lake County to fund traditional programs but also address the ongoing challenge of COVID as well as lasting impacts from the pandemic," Wilson said as she announced the proposed budget, which she emphasized "reflects the mission and priorities of Salt Lake County ... to deliver quality services to our constituents in the most equitable, effective and cost-efficient way."

The $64.3 million doesn't represent all of the American Rescue Plan Act funds available to the county that are available until 2024.

Wilson proposes using some of the funding to bolster the Salt Lake County Health Department through vaccine outreach clinics, testing and contact tracing.

She said she wants to implement county health director Dr. Angela Dunn's vision to help the department become "less silo-centric" and move to a more community-centered public health model by getting to the root of community health issues and providing services in languages clients understand.

"We seek to ensure health and safety for all residents with a particular focus on communities that have been left behind," Wilson told the County Council.

The budget proposal also includes funding to improve open spaces and invest in facility maintenance trail development in the west range Oquirrhs, as well as funding for water conservation engagement efforts and xeriscaping at the Bingham Creek Library, a nonculinary water source installation at Riverton Golf Course, and irrigation system improvement at other county parks.

Wilson also wants the funding to go toward investments to combat substance abuse, homelessness and mental health issues in the community.

The mayor wants to remodel a section of the county jail for newly-released inmates to charge their phones, "gather their thoughts," and meet with case workers who will point them to resources to help prevent them from reentering the jail. The budget proposal includes $8 million to "stabilize" public safety staffing through raises for corrections and public safety employees, as well as the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and Legal Defenders' Office.

The budget also includes $20 million in affordable housing investments; funding for internal program improvements and process reforms in county departments; and the implementation of a $15 per hour minimum wage for all permanent employees and a plan to increase pay for temporary employees to $15 no later than 2024.

The budget will need a vote from the Salt Lake County Council before it can go into effect.

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