Results-Driven Budgeting Good for the Environment, Taxpayers

By Craig Silotti

It’s Base Budget Week, the time period set aside each session for lawmakers to meet with state agencies to accept or modify their base budgets.

On February 2nd, it’s our turn. DEQ leadership will be meeting with the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environmental Quality (NRAE) Appropriations Subcommittee where we will:

  • Discuss our base budget
  • Describe our programs
  • Explain our performance measures
  • Answer lawmaker questions about how we implement these programs and allocate financial resources

Our budget process began last summer when the directors of DEQ’s six divisions and their support service coordinators looked at their funding sources and determined how to best allocate these funds to meet the agency’s regulatory and statutory responsibilities. We submitted our budget request to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, the government entity responsible for ensuring that state agencies provide Utah residents with the best return on their tax dollars. Then the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst looked at our request and made recommendations to the Appropriations Subcommittee.

Funding Sources

DEQ’s $59 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget is a mix of federal revenue, state restricted funds, state general funds, dedicated credits, and miscellaneous funds.

Federal Funds

We receive the largest proportion of our funding from approximately 40 different federal programs. Most of this funding comes from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but we also receive funding from the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Interior (DOI), and Department of Energy (DOE). These funds are used to operate federal programs delegated to DEQ.

Restricted Funds

Our next largest source of funds comes from restricted funds, which are created by the legislature for a particular purpose and are funded by fees related to that purpose. Examples of restricted funds include:

  • Environmental Quality Restricted Account – DEQ receives waste disposal fees from companies and local governments that operate public and private waste disposal facilities for solid and hazardous wastes. Appropriations from this account are used to regulate waste generators and disposal facilities.
  • Used Oil Collection Administration Account – We charge recycling fees for each quart of oil sold in Utah. Appropriations from this account are used to help manage our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Used Oil program.

General Funds

General funds come primarily from sales taxes collected by the state. We use these funds for a variety of purposes, including matching funds for federal grants, air quality research, emergency response, and our x-ray program.

Dedicated Credits

Dedicated credits are fees charged to DEQ customers. These fees reimburse us for our services and are mainly for permits, licenses, registrations, and certifications required by federal and state regulations.

The remaining funding comes from enterprise funds and miscellaneous sources.

Process Improvements and Performance Measures

Utah DEQ Main Building

DEQ is committed to making the best use possible of our funding and staff resources. Our agency has embraced the governor’s SUCCESS Framework, a set of tools and concepts designed to improve government performance. Using these tools, we determine the results we want to achieve, put a plan in place to meet our goals, and collect data to track our progress.

We have implemented a number of process improvements in recent years to ensure that we make the most efficient use of public dollars and maximize staff resources. We initiated our first process improvement project in FY 2011 and added the Success Framework model in FY 2014. We also formed a DEQ continuous improvement team to oversee and coordinate process improvements.

In FY 2014, we had 21 active improvement projects, five times the number from previous years. It will take several years for us to track the full fiscal impacts from these projects, but we are already seeing the benefits from the operational efficiencies we’ve implemented so far.

In keeping with the state government emphasis on process improvements, lawmakers on the Appropriations Subcommittee will examine our performance measures — what the state is getting in return for their money and how we’re investing taxpayer dollars.

We are proud of the progress we’ve made to date and will continue to look for more ways to make our operations as efficient and effective as possible. We’ll keep you informed on our budget and program funding during the session, so check back here for updates.

Want to know more about the budget process in Utah? The Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst has put together a series of instructional videos that offer an overview of the appropriations process, explanations of the kinds of appropriations made in the legislature, a description of budget tools, and the objectives of Base Budget week. The Compendium of Budget Information (COBI) is a great resource for comprehensive information on DEQ’s budget, including issues before lawmakers, performance measures, and detailed financials.

I have been the director of the Office of Support Services at DEQ since 1996. Before that, I was the Audit Supervisor at the Office of the Utah State Auditor from 1985-1996. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of Utah. During my non-work hours, I enjoy include spending time with my family (especially my grandkids) doing outdoor activities, particularly hiking, fishing, camping, and ATV riding.