Taking steps towards restoring public safety in downtown Salt Lake
Today, I stood with Sheriff Jim Winder, District Attorney Sim Gill, and County
Councilmember Aimee Winder Newton to announce a plan for opening more jail beds
to arresting officers.
and drug use have made the area around Rio Grande Street (near the emergency
homeless shelter) a place ranging from unwelcoming to dangerous for residents,
visitors and businesses. Some have raised concerns about booking restrictions
in the overcrowded Salt Lake County Jail that keep police officers from putting
people they arrest in jail. That is going to change.
county, in a bipartisan action, is “jump starting” the effort that was approved
by the state legislature, for additional jail beds. We’re putting forward
$700,000 for the months of May and June to cover the cost of staffing and relocating
jail occupants to other county jails, up to 300 beds. Pending approval from the
County Council on Tuesday, May 2, money will be available immediately, with the desire to have
jail beds available to local law enforcement.
know we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. The problems that exist today
cannot be solved alone with more jail space. We need to couple jail beds with
treatment for those struggling with mental health problems and substance abuse
space in the jail is an important and necessary piece in this complicated
puzzle. We need to be able to put the criminals behind bars to restore safety,
and now there is a path forward.
I am grateful to Sheriff Winder and the law enforcement officers he oversees, as well as all of the men and women in uniform who put themselves on the frontlines everyday, working to keep us all safe.
Foster grandparents help out in preschool classrooms
Today I joined Janice Jenkins at a Utah Community Action Head Start preschool. Janice is a "foster grandparent" Senior Corps volunteer with Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services. Janice says she just loves the kids and loves the work she does with them - helping them to read. Janice brought me into the classroom with her where I got to meet and play with the kids.
The county's Senior Corps program has many volunteer openings for more foster grandparents, and in other programs where seniors can be of service throughout the community. Learn more at www.slco.org/aging.
2017 budget explained
At Salt Lake County, we operate a fiscally responsible, balanced budget to fund services like parks, programs for youth and seniors, health programs, arts and culture venues, road maintenance, and public safety. Being careful stewards of tax dollars and accountability to the people who pay the bills are cornerstones of my administration.
Residents deserve to see how tax money is spent in an easily accessible way. To help achieve this, my finance team creates a "budget in brief" every year to provide details on our approach to budgeting and where the money is spent. Read the 2017 "Budget in Brief"
New homelessness plan
I recently joined state and city leaders to announce a new homelessness plan that has the following components:
- Four homeless resource centers to replace the
one-size-fits-all emergency shelter in the Rio Grande area. Two facilities will be constructed in Salt
Lake City, capped at 200 beds each, and a third resource center will be located
outside of Salt Lake City. The family shelter in Midvale, which is now open
year-round, will be the facility that serves homeless families with children.
- The resource centers will serve distinct
populations of adult women, adult men and single men and single women in
separate areas of one facility.
- Alternatives to shelter have been carefully
considered over a period of several years and will help ensure that demand for
emergency shelter lessens over time.
- If implemented as planned, the state
anticipates being able to responsibly close the Rio Grande shelter by June 30,
More information on the new plan released by the state of
Utah is available on the Utah House of Representatives blog.
The public will be invited to give input on possible
locations for the third facility. A schedule of public meetings will soon be released. A site selection recommendation committee—with members from the public, private
and nonprofit communities—will submit a recommendation to the State Homeless
Coordinating Committee by March 30, 2017.
I am grateful to all parties who are working tirelessly to
give us solutions that will minimize homelessness in our state and keep all
neighborhoods safe and welcoming.
Opportunity Ahead: 2017 State of the County
My 2017 State of the County speech focused on opportunities for all county residents, specifically in the areas of good jobs, safe, affordable housing, access to quality healthcare and education, and recreation and fun. We have made great progress in these areas but our work is not done yet.
County government is showing that it can step up to the challenges of a rapidly changing world. In the coming year, I want every county agenda item to be one that expands opportunity. Anyone who feels the the economy has let them down and that no one cares about what happens to their lives or their families, I say watch for Salt Lake County's opportunity signs.
Salt Lake County will welcome refugees, celebrate diversity, support individual initiative and be accountable for every tax dollar we spend.
My favorite part of this year's State of the County was when I got to welcome refugee teens who are being resettled here, joining our community. I told these kids, who have escaped extreme hardship, that they are welcome here and make our community stronger. Read my speech here.