The Utah County Commission re-urges discussion of changing the county’s 2021 general fund and withdrawing a 2019 property tax increase.
During a public meeting on Wednesday, the commission considered a proposal from Commissioner Tom Sakievich to adjust the budget by increasing the county’s projected property tax revenue by $ 1.5 million, based on the rapid population growth the county’s continued to experience as well as the projected sales tax revenue of $ 1.5 million as the county recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could, based on the growth patterns of a very conservative 4% growth, and assume that even in the next two to three years, 4% should be able to add another $ 1.5 million to the county’s projected property tax increase, “said Sakievich on Wednesday.
Sakievich also suggested cutting $ 3 million from the general fund property tax and moving $ 8 million from the general fund to the capital improvement fund.
The $ 3 million budget cut coupled with the $ 4.8 million budget cut approved by the Commission in April would result in an overall reduction of approximately $ 7.8 million, or 40.6% of that approved by the Commission US $ 19.3 million increase in property tax approved in December 2019.
However, Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner, former clerk / accountant for the county, pointed out that the original budget for 2021 already resulted in a 4% increase in property tax revenues due to population growth.
“As for sales tax, I see that (increased sales forecast),” Gardner said. “But I don’t see where that is on the property tax. Because if you estimate a 4% increase in property tax compared to the previous year, this has already been taken into account in the original budget and in the income. “
Gardner added that in Sakievich’s proposal she “saw no spending cuts proposed in any area” and “also sees that we are not investing in the capital projects at all”.
“You speak of the fact that capital projects are funded. That’s just because we have federal funds, ”Gardner said. “We as a district have not invested any tax money in capital projects.”
Sakeivich said Gardner’s concerns were on the “management side” of the problem, adding that the commission could address the concerns at a later date.
“I was just mentioning that we have the sales and property tax templates here to justify a million and a half … to justify an increase in those two areas and an overall reduction in the fund of $ 3 million,” he said .
After more than an hour of discussion, Sakievich requested that the item be continued until the next week’s meeting. Gardner refused to approve the motion and voted against. The request was answered 2: 1.
The Commission should first consider changes to the budget at its meeting on May 12th. Sakievich asked the Commission to postpone the discussion so that he could “consolidate” his proposal.
According to a presentation by Sakievich, the proposal was put together to “ensure that the county maintains a solid financial position while lowering onerous taxes for the county’s residents and businesses” and “to ensure that operating costs are on solid foundations to ensure that they are in good shape that the county is ready to protect people’s rights, support the cities and effectively … (govern) themselves. “
Sakievich’s proposal did not include federal funding for COVID-19.
During Wednesday’s public hearing, interim clerk / auditor Josh Daniels, who spoke as a resident of Saratoga Springs, said there is a “misunderstanding” about how property taxes work in Utah, the “only state in America that has a property tax law.” a property tax system in which the tax rates actually have to fall when property taxes rise. “
“So if you look at your property tax bill and it goes up dramatically, it’s because one of the local government agencies that is taxing you is actually imposing an increase. Typically the school districts, ”said Daniels.
South County-based Dale Summerhays, who called the process of truth in taxation a “dog and pony show,” urged the commission to lower the property tax rate, saying the amount he pays in property tax is in the up 25% in the past two years.
“You need to take a look at the reality of what is happening,” he said. “And I’m not the only one, and a lot of people are really, really struggling with these increases. Especially those with a fixed income. “
Connor Richards covers government, environmental, and South Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at [email protected] and 801-344-2599.