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The Salt Lake County Council gave tentative approval Tuesday to a $1.1 billion 2016 budget that diverged only slightly from Mayor Ben McAdams' proposal and still includes a property-tax hike.

Could that change when the budget comes up for a Dec. 8 public hearing in the County Council chambers?

Republican Councilman Michael Jensen raised the possibility at the end of a daylong session of line-item additions and subtractions that basically left intact the mayor's proposal.

That includes a property-tax increase of $2.28 on a $273,000 home and $4.15 on a comparably valued business parcel to cover the county's extension of a 1995 tax levy to pay for jail construction.

The mayor's plan, with the council's concurrence so far, is to take the $9.4 million from that tax continuation and to use $3.9 million of it for immediate needs facing the sheriff and district attorney, and to set aside the other $5.5 million for criminal-justice reform.

But as the meeting drew to a close, Jensen asked county chief financial officer Darrin Casper and council fiscal manager Dave Delquadro to figure out how much of that $9.4 million the county would have to forgo next year to avoid that tax hike.

That money would likely come out of the $5.5 million that would be put into escrow in the mayor's plan — along with about $6 million each in 2017 and 2018 — to build a pot that would be used to repay private investors in the "Pay for Success" program aimed at treating root causes of the explosion of people entering the criminal justice system.

While the Republican-majority council generally agrees with the Democratic mayor that skyrocketing criminal-justice demands will require creative county responses, McAdams still must convince the council that the Pay for Success program is the route to go.

He and his staff will research that tack through the end of this year and early into next year. The first briefing is set for Dec. 15.

Jensen's request capped a day of exchanges as council members tried to adjust the budget to their liking.

In the end, the biggest changes redirected more than $1 million into accelerating improvements to the county computer system. That money came largely from cuts to a proposed 3-1-1 government answering service and a plan to relieve "compression" inequities in the employee pay structure.

Other small and midsize cuts made by the council:

• Reduced next year's funding for photographing and the county's art collection and displaying it on a website for the public to see

• Cut funding for new dirt and a sound system at the county equestrian center, in part because the county is unsure what to do with that money-draining facility

• Put off the hiring of a financial officer to handle the complex money issues that will arise as the county embarks on creating a municipal services district for the new metro townships and whichever cities join them

The council declined to give employees an incentive for riding bicycles to work but opted to keep offering tuition reimbursement.

And the pursuit of a convention center hotel in downtown Salt Lake City remains as the council rejected efforts to cut $620,000 for a consultant to help the county find a private company to build and operate one adjacent to the Salt Palace.

Leftover funds were used to give $80,000 to the sheriff's office for a mental-health worker and $270,000 to the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association (LDA) to beef up its staff.

LDA director Patrick Anderson said that allocation was much less than needed and did not come anywhere close to matching the extra assistance given to the sheriff and district attorney offices — even though their work increases his caseloads.