Tonight Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski cast her vision for the next two years in her State of the City address at the Horizonte Instruction and Training Center. The speech highlighted the progress made over the past two years and outlined opportunities to improve infrastructure, public transit, affordable housing, public safety and air quality.
“The state of the City is strong,” said Biskupski. “In Salt Lake City we have a rare opportunity to create a transformational shift in how we address growth.”
Mayor Biskupski outlined some of the successes during the first two years of her administration:
- A new Economic Development Department brought in nearly $1 billion in investments and more than 6,000 jobs with an average annual salary of about $66,000.
- The City created its first Housing Master Plan “Growing SLC.” The City invested $6.2. million and turned it into $154 million in private funds to create 796 affordable housing units. The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission helped foster another 270 units this year.
- The City’s first-ever Transit Master Plan was completed and top priorities of the plan will be implemented in the coming year.
- A 12 percent drop in crime since 2015 and a 5.8 percent drop last year alone. Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and his officers did this by using data to strategically place resources and resuming the neighborhood beat policing model.
Now that the City has developed strategic plans, Mayor Biskupski also focused on the unique opportunities available to fund growth issues.
“For the first time, Salt Lake City has a robust transit master plan, a housing plan, and an in-depth understanding of our infrastructure needs,” she said. “With all of this in place, now is the time for us to fully invest in the future of Salt Lake City.”
Mayor Biskupski said still she will continue working with City Council Members and the public to consider funding options to help the City can control its own destiny. One option is renewing $87 million in bonds that are about to expire. The bonds would cost a typical homeowner about $5 per year.
Also, the Utah Legislature approved a bill in 2015 allowing Salt Lake City to increase the sales tax by a half a percent--five cents for every $10. The sales tax would generate approximately $35 million annually.
Mayor Biskupski offered examples on how the money could be spent:
- Increasing east-west public transit routes to help more people get to work or school and reduce the air pollution caused by personal vehicles.
- Providing funds so police officers can do more neighborhood beat patrols and designing streets and buildings using methods that reduce crime.
- Repairing streets and roads---a new survey found 64 percent of all roads are rated between poor and failing.
- Providing more funding for affordable housing.
“This funding would come, not only from local residents, but from those work in the Capital City, ensuring all who take advantage of our infrastructure help to maintain it,” said Biskupski. “With that vision, we have forged a path to truly build a City for everyone.”