Despite dissent within its ranks, the Cache County Council has passed a budget for 2022 exceeding $107 million.
CACHE COUNTY – Following a public hearing that drew no input from county residents, the Cache County Council adopted a 2022 budget that exceeded $107 million at a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
Approval of the county budget is normally a pro forma vote at this time of the year, but the 2022 budget was passed over the objections of council members Paul R. Borup and David L. Erickson.
“I just want to say that there is a lot of money in that budget that are American Rescue Plan Act funds,” Borup argued. “I’ll sound like a broken record, but those things are terrible.
“I’d rather take that money and set it on fire than hang a millstone around the necks of future generations by building assets that we’re going to have to pay for in the future.”
A significant amount of the budget increase is due to American Rescue Plan Act funds which the county has not yet specified how they will be spent. The federal money will go to the county’s general government expenses which could be used for a variety of projects.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was by proposed by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration and passed by strictly party-line votes in Congress during March of 2021.
Nationwide, ARPA provided $350 billion to state and local governments, with 57 percent of that amount going to state treasuries and 35 going to county and municipal coffers.
Data published by the General Accounting Office (GAO) indicates that Cache County has received nearly $25 million in federal assistance since ARPA was enacted.
“People will run around saying (federal financial assistance) is great,” Borup predicted. “We can do this or that or the other thing. But we’re just digging ourselves further into a hole.
“I’d rather not – quote invest unquote — that (ARPA) money just to hand future generations assets that are going to hurt them.”
The Cache County 2021 budget approved by council members in December of 2020 was $70 million. ARPA funds account for much of the $37 million increase in the 2022 budget passed on Tuesday.
“There are several county departments that are getting pretty hefty budget increases,” according to council member Erickson. “I’d prefer that those departments’ budgets remain at the 2021 levels.
“Some of those 2021 budget levels were already inflated because of other (federal) monies that had come in,” Erickson added.
Funds earmarked for specific county functions in the 2022 budget include more than $51 million for general government expenses, more than $22 million for public safety, $410,500 for health and welfare and more than $1.6 million for culture and recreation.
“We’re not raising taxes, right?” Erickson asked rhetorically. “I’ve seen some huge changes in those (department) budgets … I don’t see much need for those budget increases if we’re not raising taxes.”
Despite nay votes from Borup and Erickson, the council’s majority passed a budget totaling $107,164,300.
That total included budgets for three component units of Cache County totaling nearly $1 million. Those units were the Roads Special Service District ($121,000), the Logan-Cache Airport Authority ($834,000) and the Cache County Community Foundation ($36,100).
The adopted Cache County budget will take effect Jan. 1, 2022.