SLC Mayor Jackie Biskupski asks for sales tax hike to fix roads, fund expanded bus service

SALT LAKE CITY -- If you've driven on them, you know they're falling apart.

Two-thirds of the city's roads have been ranked as "poor or failing," according to an independent analysis commissioned by Salt Lake City. Years of "deferred maintenance," or putting off repairs until they are critical, has taken it's toll.

"They're aging and they need some attention and the load on them," said Parviz Rokhva, the director of streets for Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski presents her proposed budget on April 30, 2018. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Mayor Jackie Biskupski has proposed spending $7.1 million for road, sidewalk and pavement infrastructure repairs. But to do it, she's asking the city council to approve a .05 percent sales tax hike. In addition to that, the mayor is asking voters to approve an $87 million bond for ongoing road improvements.

Mayor Biskupski unveiled two budgets on Monday -- a $275 million budget that includes the sales tax hike, and a leaner budget if they don't.

Speaking to reporters, the mayor put forth a wish list of items that the sales tax hike could fund. The tax hike would come in large part from people who come into the city.

"We will capture all those who are coming into the community for entertainment, medical care, employment," she said. "They will help pay for the infrastructure they use use today."

Mayor Biskupski's budget includes $5.9 million for more police officers, staffers and equipment; $4.1 million for battling homelessness and increasing affordable housing; and $5.3 million to dramatically expand transit options within Salt Lake City.

The mayor proposed a high-frequency bus network going east to west in the city, along 2100 South, 900 South, 200 South and 600 North (or potentially 1000 North).

"That opportunity will create that bus service everyone has been wanting," she said. "Every 15 minutes from 5 a.m. to midnight. Sunday service. All of that matters to people who live here."

The mayor insisted contracts would be drawn up with the Utah Transit Authority to ensure the expanded service happens.

The Salt Lake City Council is scheduled to vote on the sales tax hike at its Tuesday meeting. Mayor Biskupski believes she has the votes.

"I believe the majority, if not all of the councilmembers, are supportive of the future proposal," she said.

Read the mayor's proposed budget here: