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Salt Lake Mayor Ralph Becker sees sunnier days ahead

SALT LAKE CITY(Deseret News) — After a year of economic turmoil, one that saw city leaders slash budgets, cut back on employees' pay while upping health care costs, Mayor Ralph Becker sees better days for the capital city in 2010.

"Across the county, and here in Salt Lake City, this past year was not an easy one," Becker said Tuesday in his third State of the City address since taking office in 2008, "but I have been heartened and inspired by the way this city and all of you have pulled together to forge ahead and accomplish so much."

Becker recounted his administration's successes over the past two years and said he would turn his focus to what he called "the four Es of livability" — environment, efficiency, equality and engagement.

On a smoggy day in Salt Lake City, Becker reaffirmed his commitment to sustainability efforts. The mayor announced a glass-recycling program would begin next week for downtown businesses and, throughout the year, officials would look to replace many of the city's 15,000 street lamps with more energy-efficient lights.

After being forced to slash the 2009 budget by more than 4 percent from the year before — a move that cost city employees 1.5 percent of their paychecks — Becker said employees' checks would not take another hit in 2010.

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