The Uintah County Commission approved the 2019 budget this week during Monday’s Commission meeting. The total Uintah County budget approved for 2019 is $71,918,850. This is down from the 2018 total budget of $83,335,800. Clerk/Auditor Mike Wilkins explains that the main difference between the two years is the 2018 budget included nearly $11 million dollars for a project to pipe the upper and highline canals but that project has now been turned over to the Uintah Water Conservancy District. The 2019 General Fund was approved at $29,317,200 which is up over $3 million dollars from 2018. Wilkins says the difference includes the increase in payments on the Public Safety Complex. The increase in payments allocated to the Public Safety Complex was a topic during the 2019 Budget Public Hearing held on November 26th. During the hearing, Wilkins explained that the budget reflects a $3 million dollar payment on the Public Safety Complex though the loan only requires a $250,000 payment for the year. As part of the discussion, Sheriff Vance Norton asked why his request for additional officers for his department were not included in the budget. Sheriff Norton emphasized that the Sheriff’s Office is not adequately staffed to provide the necessary services to the community, posing a safety risk to the public as well as to officers. He said he believes that rather than making additional payments on the Public Safety Complex, the budget should cover the hiring of the new officers. Commissioner Stringer spoke on behalf of Commissioner Horrocks, who was not present, questioning the over time savings of having additional employees which Sheriff Norton said additional officers will cut down overtime but there is no way to know how much. Commissioner Shepherd stated he would be in favor of funding more officers if there is a way to fund them, such as reducing the payment on the Public Safety Complex. Eleven people are noted in the minutes as speaking in support of funding the additional officers before the public hearing was closed. The 2019 budget was approved on December 10th without an adjustment to fund the additional officers but the Commissioners and incoming Sheriff Steve Labrum plan to continue discussions.
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