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Public Lambasts County Property Tax Increase

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Salt Lake County officials have been meeting over the past few weeks to try and mitigate a proposed property tax increase included in the county’s 2013 budget. But dozens of Salt Lake County residents made it clear last night during a public hearing on the subject, that they don’t think they’re looking hard enough.“You guys are broke," Salt Lake County resident 

Wells Wagner told members of the county council on Tuesday.

"It would have been nice to hear that before this past election.”

Wagner said he and others were “suckered” into voting for a $50 million dollar park bond only to find out days later, the county was asking for a property tax increase.

“So I don’t give a rats….what you say, you can cut," Wagner said. "And I would second that, a 16.2 percent decrease in our property tax is the way you guys ought to go.”

Salt Lake County’s 2013 budget proposal includes a 16.2 percent hike, which amounts to roughly $59 dollars a year for the average home. The original proposal was 17.5 percent, but was scaled down after members of the council found $2.5 million in cuts. 

Democratic Councilman Randy Horiuchi said even the slight dent that the council made in the initial tax increase was difficult.

“We took every part of that budget and scrubbed it up and down until we were taking its hide off," Horiuchi said. "We literally got to know the budget very well this year, up close and personal. So the decisions that were made, were just really, we cut some things that were just crazy.”

One of those cuts included the decision not to restore a two percent county contribution to employee’s 401(k) plans.

But the council’s explanations didn’t satisfy county resident Nate Jensen. 

“I looked over the budget, there are some line items I don’t want to pay for, $30 million for grants, planetarium subsidies, Salt Palace [Convention Center) subsidies, South Towne (Expo Center) subsidy, equestrian park subsidy, fine art subsidy, Salt Palace equipment, come on guys, there are some things that can be cut," Jensen said.

Outgoing Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon didn’t address those specific budget items, but said despite the unfavorable comments he doesn’t expect any significant changes to the budget.

“With a 140,000 new people in the valley, with things like gas going up double, triple what it was twelve years ago, at some you have to increase taxes," Corroon said. "It’s not possible to never increase taxes and we felt it was the time after 12 years.”

Salt Lake County will hold a second public hearing this Thursday at 6 pm before the county council adopts the final budget.

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