Utah County Commission Approves 67% Property Tax Hike To Balance Budget
The average Utah County property owner will pay about $83 more each year under a new tax rate approved Tuesday. That’s a 67% increase.
The County Commission voted 2-1 to increase the county’s portion of the tax for the first time in 23 years.
“It’s very unpopular politically to do this,” said Utah County Commission Chair Tanner Ainge. “It’s easier to just kick the can down the road, not solve problems, and let them fester and let them be solved on another person’s watch.”
The tax increase is expected to bring in about $19 million more annually to the general fund, which pays for things things like criminal justice and elections.
Ainge argued that the county needs that money to stop eating into its rainy day fund.
“For the last three years, Utah County has been running a deficit,” Ainge said. “I think that is completely unacceptable and I was willing to do whatever was needed to be done to put us back into a fiscally sustainable position.”
Last week, commissioners were considering a 100% tax increase and eventually shrunk that to 67% on Tuesday. But, that wasn’t enough for Commissioner Bill Lee, who voted against the tax increase. He argued it should have been done more incrementally, and only after doing a deep analysis of the county’s budget to find places to save.
“Because most citizens have a leery eye on government and they question so much that’s going on, you can take marginal steps and try to build confidence in what you’re trying to accomplish, showing them that you’re being responsible along the way,” Lee said.