The Park City Council discussed its recession and budgeting plan, as the city faces nearly a $4 million shortfall for the rest of the fiscal year.
Park City’s budget analysts predict a $3.7 million shortfall in sales tax revenue; $800,000 in recreation revenue; and $260,000 from ice arena programming. Budget Manager Jed Briggs says what Park City and many cities across the country are experiencing is more akin to a natural disaster than a recession. Briggs says during the 2008 recession, there was more time to put a budget together.
“In this case, we were going through and looking at adding positions and looking at adding new projects," Briggs said. "And all of a sudden, it was like the floor fell out from underneath us, and we’re just scrambling, and so it is all hands on deck trying to weather the storm.”
To address the shortfall for the remainder of fiscal year 2020, the city plans to reduce $1.25 million in operating expenditures; $2 million in capital projects; and pull $750,000 out of the general fund.
The city council is about to head into its annual budgeting hearings, where they plan the budget for the next fiscal year based on the council’s priorities. But there’s a lot of uncertainty due to the nature of the emergency. Utah’s economic recovery plan estimates somewhat normal business operations could resume earliest around Labor Day and near the holiday season at the latest. Park City Manager Matt Dias told councilmembers the city is in a good financial position due to some proactive measures, but it could mean some difficult decisions.
“We’re going to do everything we can within our means, and it will be incredibly difficult," Dias said. "I think, eventually, everything’s on the table, so I can’t commit to no furloughs or no RIFs and no layoffs, but we’re going to do everything we can to formulate a plan for you that provides core commitments and core community services to the public.”
Looking ahead to the next fiscal year, Park City Councilmember Tim Henney told KPCW that essential capital projects, like the $100 million Three Kings Water Treatment Plant won’t be delayed, but something like the Bonanza Park Arts and Culture District might need to be reassessed. Henney hopes the community participates in the upcoming budgeting process.
“This is one of those times where normally the budgeting process doesn’t get any participation or fanfare," Henney said. "This time, I think we may have some significant resident input, which would be great.”
The Park City Council will further discuss the recession plan at the April 16 meeting, with fiscal year 2021 budget hearings beginning later in the month.