WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC4) — Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson reported success in bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic but noted more work still needs to be done during her 2023 State of The County address.
Her speech, delivered live Monday evening from the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan, can be read in its entirety at the bottom of this post.
Wilson said county tourism has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, with some revenues and hotel bookings even exceeding those levels. With the NBA All-Star Game coming to Salt Lake City in February, Wilson said she expects a strong economic boost from the game. She pointed out that the previous All-Star Game in Cleveland generated almost $250 million, and with the added attraction of Utah’s skiing, “…it looks like we’re on track to crush Cleveland’s total revenue.”
Wilson said the pandemic also caused her to reflect on the importance of the County Health Department. She noted that Salt Lake County is healthier on average than other counties when it comes to cancer and diabetes. The county’s youth obesity rate, she said, is tied for the lowest in the nation.
“That’s the upside, but we do need to continue our focus on increasing childhood immunization rates, and decreasing the number of residents suffering from addiction, depression, and mental health challenges,” said Wilson. “And, if we can improve our air quality, we will see a decrease in the number of people with asthma.”
Wilson called for greater unity among county residents, calling political and neighborhood divisions “poisonous.”
“Things are just more tense than they used to be. Just this weekend I noticed this sign at a bagel shop,” said Wilson. “‘We think our staff are pretty amazing! We will not tolerate them being bullied or unkind words!’ Really, are things so bad that businesses need to post signs to prevent their workers from being bullied? … My challenge to each of you is to remain diligent in the role you play. We are never going to all get along, we are never going to all agree on the same ideas but civil engagement and conversation with each other can go a long way.”
Wilson asked residents to be patient with one another and urged residents to “Put kindness for your neighbor first.”
Wilson noted that the county’s unemployment rate currently stands at only 2.4%, one of the lowest in the nation. She said the county is also one of only 40 counties nationwide with a AAA bond rating from “every major agency — the highest possible grade.”
- A $20 million enhancement to the County’s Housing Trust Fund. Grants will be provided to help build more “deeply affordable housing.”
- A $5 million infusion into the Open Space Trust Fund. The county will purchase “additional pristine lands,” benefiting current and future generations.
- Extensive investment into new trails. This includes a multi-million dollar investment in opening up biking, hiking, and equestrian trails in Butterfield and Yellowfork Canyons. Additionally, urban connector trails like the one that will be joining Magna, Kearns, and Taylorsville are also in the works.
- $19 million has been appropriated for water conservation projects. Grass playing fields are being switched to synthetic turf. Officials are working to be “water wise” with landscaping at county facilities and park irrigation systems are being updated.
- Millions have been set aside to modernize senior centers and support workforce development programs.