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23 different property tax hikes proposed in Salt Lake County

SL Co tax hikes
Posted at 3:32 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 16:46:28-04

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Salt Lake County Auditor Chris Harding is getting ready to send out property tax notices to residents.

But some may come with a little sticker shock. Across Salt Lake County, different taxing entities are proposing tax increases that will affect people depending on the value of their homes.

"We have 23 of them. It’s kind of a record," the auditor said in a recent interview with FOX 13 News.

Some are being proposed this year. Others were added on the 2021 calendar year, Harding said.

Depending on where people live, they may face several different property tax hikes. For example, Salt Lake City is proposing an $89.34 a year increase on a home valued at $576,000. But in addition to that, there's a proposed $12.67 annual tax hike from the school district and a $23.44 tax increase from the library board (which operates separately as a taxing entity). Then there's the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, which supplies water to a large part of the state and is seeking a $24.07 a year increase on a home valued at $561,000.

In South Jordan, the city is proposing a $48.67 a year increase on a $500,000 home; the Jordan School District is asking for a $253.65 increase on a home valued at $586,000; the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District is asking for about $7 a year on a home valued at $604,000; and then there's the Central Utah Water Conservancy District's request.

"The bottom line is in order to maintain the services that our residents have made so clear that are important to them? We don’t have a choice but to ask a little bit more in taxes," said South Jordan Mayor Dawn Ramsey.

Mayor Ramsey, who is also the president of the Utah League of Cities and Towns, said a number of cities across the state are being forced to raise taxes because of inflation, rising costs and growth needs. Some communities, fearful of resident backlash, have avoided raising taxes for decades.

"It’s actually been over 20 years since we asked for this kind of an increase," Mayor Ramsey said of her city, adding that prior tax increases were specific to projects.

Inflation is the biggest reason why Salt Lake County is seeing so many, said Harding.

"Inflation is on the rise. We just got through with COVID, people are getting back to work, going back to school, recreation," he said. "It costs money to operate city governments, to fight fires and pave roads."

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District said it has some big projects coming up and supply costs have grown significantly.

"Diesel fuel’s up 80%. Lumber by 63%. Asphalt and oil products by 50%," said K.C. Shaw, the district's deputy director. "We’re seeing that overall our cost has increased by 20% and in order to continue to provide those facilities and create new ones, we have to have an increase in taxes."

Legally, every taxing entity must hold what's called a "Truth in Taxation" hearing. Those will be held beginning in August. To help explain why tax increases are necessary, South Jordan City has been posting social media videos and created a special website to answer questions. Mayor Ramsey told FOX 13 News she believes residents understand the need.

"We want good quality roads, we want to make sure we have access to recreation, we want to make sure when we call 911 police or fire are there," she said. "I think most of us feel that way. I know the residents, the majority of South Jordan feel that way."

The Utah Taxpayers Association, a tax watchdog group, warned cities about too many tax hikes.

"Cities should only be looking to trigger Truth in Taxation hearings every 5-8 years to recapture inflation. Taxpayers should be wary of those that consistently raise them or use the current inflation situation to justify a large increase. Government should be doing what individuals and businesses are doing now — be forced to do more with less and make adjustments for essential needs," said Rusty Cannon, the group's president.

Shaw said he believes their proposed tax increase will buy some needed water infrastructure improvements.

"For example, not far from here we have a pipeline that feeds about two-thirds of the state of Utah that’s at risk for geo-hazards, landslides and earthquakes, that needs to be relocated and replaced. That’s a $40 million project," he told FOX 13 News.

Mayor Ramsey said so far, residents have surprisingly responded positively to the tax increase proposal — once it is explained to them what it's for. South Jordan City annually surveys residents for priorities that they want funded. Recently, residents have called for increases in public safety funding.

"And I say surprising in that nobody ever wants to pay more taxes, right?" she said. "But this is to meet the needs that they’ve said are their priority and for the most part people have understood that."

See the proposed tax increases here: