The Summit County Council will hold a Truth-In-Taxation hearing today at 6 p.m. (Wednesday, Aug. 14) at the Summit County Courthouse at 60 N. Main Street in Coalville. The hearing will concern the potential tax increases to the Municipal Fund and Service Area 6.
Because of a citizen referendum last year, Summit County was forced to cut the budgets of the Sheriff's Office (by $250,000) and road projects ($770,000). The proposed rate increase for the Municipal Fund is 51.2 percent, with the average tax on primary improved properties in unincorporated parts of the county is set to be $58.
However, as stated in a previous interview, Summit County Manager Bob Jasper points out that this proposal is not an overall tax increase, as taxes for county residents overall will be going down on average.
"I encourage people when they get their notice to go down to where it says 'Total Property Tax' and compare the 'Taxes Last Year' column to the 'Tax if Proposed Budget Approved' column," Jasper said.
Examples of some districts seeing tax decreases include: District 10 (Bear Hollow, Bitner, Redstone, Pinebrook Blvd.), down $21.85; District 13 (Blackhawk, Ecker Hill, Pinebrook), down $50.78; District 18 (Wanship), down $90.72.
However, some residents disagree with the proposed tax increases. Jacqueline Smith, Coalville resident and member of The Save the American Republic (S.T.A.R.) Forum and Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, believes the hike in the Municipal Fund will affect residents in the county.
"Their overall taxes may be down this year, but that increase will be heavy when [property] values go back up," Smith said.
Smith also addressed the issue of road construction projects, which were severely affected by the citizen referendum last year that Smith helped to organize.
"I'm not against doing roads we need to recognize that some of the things we do in Summit County are not being done correctly," Smith said. "The municipalities are paying a heavy price for the cities that do not have police departments."
Smith believes that if cities are not paying in to the Municipal Fund, they need to subsidize the fund if they want to have those services, like coverage by sheriff's deputies, in their neighborhoods. Cutting spending in other areas of funds that she deems "not necessary" Smith says would free up more money for road projects.
"If we have more funds for roads, we don't have to increase our taxes," Smith said.
The Municipal Fund tax, however, has not increased since its inception in 1988. Jasper also addressed concerns raised that the county has not been fiscally responsible.
"We've cut 24 positions in the last three or four years. We've reduced our operating budget from $51 million to $46 million," Jasper said. "I believe we've tightened our belt pretty extraordinarily."
"I've watched people circulate petitions saying, 'The county is raising taxes,'" Jasper said. "We're not actually taxes are going down. You have to look at all our taxes, not just a component of them."
Smith also mentioned that if another big box store like a Costco came to Summit County, it would bring tax revenues and jobs to the community that would be a huge benefit.
"We would have fewer people driving down the mountain to Salt Lake City and it would decrease our carbon footprint," Smith said. "It would make Summit County a really good place to live and work and stay in."
Smith also wants a change in the law that she says allows some residents to impose a tax on other residents.
"We need to make sure that those voting on a tax are those impacted by the tax," Smith said.
Smith hopes Summit County residents attend the Truth-In-Taxation hearing on Wednesday and believes it's very important, regardless of which side of the issue someone is on.
"I hope people come and be heard either way, and let their County Council members know [their thoughts]," Smith said.