December 18, 2020 — As 2020 (finally) comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on all the challenges and progress related to Funding Our Future in the past year. Engagement on multiple projects moved forward, the first bond street reconstruction projects were completed, housing assistance was provided to the most vulnerable in our community, and all staff adapted to the events of this year from the pandemic, to the March earthquake and September windstorm, and more.
On the topic of COVID, it is more critical than ever to follow the latest health recommendations especially with the upcoming holidays. Learn more at the State of Utah’s COVID page here and Salt Lake City’s COVID resource page here.
Unfortunately, COVID only exacerbated an already strained housing situation in Salt Lake City and across the country. As our City continues to navigate the pandemic, funding for housing programs has been key in assisting some of our community’s most vulnerable. At least 423 individuals received housing/rental assistance this year through Funding Our Future, and Salt Lake City’s Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) Division facilitated COVID-
The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted a renewed reckoning on racial justice in the United States. Such sobering events from the past year have necessitated a time of reflection for our country, our community, and our City. Mayor Mendenhall and the City Council continue to work jointly on several fronts to address equity in policing. You can read the December 2020 Progress Report for this issue here and check out the full City Council Racial Equity and Policing Hub here. The Racial Equity in Policing Commission is meeting regularly, and the firm to conduct the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) budget audit has been announced with work underway. Learn more here.
We were lucky to be able to do in-person engagement about the Frequent Transit Network, aka FTN, from January to March 2020. While COVID resulted in reduced transit service starting in April of 2020, the FTN bus routes (routes 2, 9, and 21) resumed, and even improved beyond pre-COVID levels, in August 2020. Routes 200 and 217 also match the FTN service level. Transit continues to be safe, as cleaning is a top priority and face coverings are required on all Utah Transit Authority (UTA) services. Many essential workers in our community, like healthcare and grocery store employees, have depended on the continued operation of transit services.
Back in 2015, 83% of bus stops in Salt Lake City had only a sign, no shelters or benches. Since 2018 when Funding Our Future began, we have continued to improve bus stops across the City to make them more accessible, like on 200 South—with the addition of shelters, benches, trash cans, bike racks, and lighting. Learn more at www.slc.gov/transit/
Despite this year’s many challenges—with COVID, natural disasters, equipment breakdowns, and a wet spring—the Streets Division was still able to complete surface treatments on 140 lane miles (extremely close to the annual goal of 155 miles). Not to mention that the Streets crews, working with other staff across the City and beyond, were essential in cleaning up our streets after the September windstorm .
Separately, the first Funding Our Future bond reconstruction projects were completed this year! These include 700 West, 2000 East, and residential street reconstruction projects . Meanwhile, 2021 bond projects made progress on engagement and design: 200 South, 900 South, and 300 West (check out the 300 West final street design here ). Finally, in September 2020, the 2nd bond issuance of $20.5 million was sold; this bond issuance had a true interest cost of 1.63%. The bond issuance in 2019 had a true interest cost of 2.078%. These are both historically low and mean the City will pay less in interest, saving taxpayers money. Two more bond issuances are planned.
First publishing the Funding Our Future bond projects map, and later publishing the map with all Funding Our Future projects, was definitely a highlight of 2020. There are now impact stories published on the website as well! With the Funding Our Future expectations for transparency and accountability, the maps and impact stories are another addition on top of the Critical Needs Dashboard so residents are able to track how revenue is being spent, how projects and programs are being implemented, and progress towards goals.
Salt Lake City is still experiencing an upward trend of COVID cases and deaths. Masks are required, and the CDC recommends celebrating holidays virtually or with members of your own household which is the lowest risk for spread. To learn more, visit www.slc.gov/covid.