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Pleasant Grove considers increasing property taxes by 52 percent

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Posted at 9:46 PM, Aug 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-07 23:46:19-04

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah -- Property taxes could skyrocket in Pleasant Grove, and at a City Council meeting held Wednesday night at the fire station it was standing room only.

There were mixed emotions about the topic of a 52 percent increase. The money would be used for a new public safety building. Police officers and firefighters said it's long overdue, but some residents said now is not the time.

"These things are a big deal for people on a fixed income," said one elderly man at the podium during Wednesday night's meeting.

The fire station was packed with people, and some of them were angry over the proposal. Another resident at the podium said, "We have a really bad economy right now, and to borrow $19 million with a $10 million additional service; it's not a good idea in this economy."

The applause for those in support of the tax increase was just as loud when a woman stood up to speak and said, "We are fully in support of the city council in this decision. It needs to be done and needs to be done now."

It was hard to gauge how split the crowd was based on the applause alone, but residents FOX 13 News talked to said now is not the time for the hike.

"This is the talk of the town, we don't have the population to support a 7-story building, it's just that simple," said Corky Miller, who has lived in Pleasant Grove for more than a decade.

The $19 million generated from the tax increase would go to pay for a new public safety building. The police station has been around since the ‘70s, and the fire station is an old high school building from 1949.

"This has been in the planning stages for years," said Deputy Fire Chief Dave Thomas, who said the city considered a voter approved bond but went with the truth in taxation instead because, "By putting it back a year it would put it into next year in order to get it on the ballot. We have interest rates that are going up and building and construction costs that are going up, and so we opted to make that move now and save money in the long run."

Thomas said they've been mailing out fliers to inform residents. However, Diane Oscarson Moss, who is a candidate for the Pleasant Grove City Council, has been gathering signatures for a petition.

"We went around and gathered these 450 signatures, and I know there's more,” she said.  “No one knew in the city what was going on, they knew that they were thinking of building a public safety building, but they didn't realize that we weren't going to be voting for it."

Wednesday night was the only scheduled public hearing on the proposed tax increase. The city council plans on voting next week.