County to decide upon potential tax hikes and layoffs
December 9, 2011
Three jobs, two tax hikes, and $45 million will be on the line Wednesday, Dec. 14. The Summit County Council is scheduled to hold its annual budget hearing and two Truth in Taxation hearings that day to set next year’s tax rate and operating budget.
County Manager Bob Jasper has proposed that the County Council eliminate two animal control positions, a planning department position and make the county historian position only part-time to balance the budget. The County Council has discussed possibility of keeping the historian position full-time and either cutting a planning tech or assessor position.
In addition to the personnel cuts, which Summit County Assistant Auditor Matt Leavitt estimates will save the county more than $150,000, Jasper is recommending the Council cut each department’s budget and raise the Municipal Tax rate which affects all Summit County residents except for those living in Park City. He is also recommending tax increases for residents in Service Area #6, including Silver Springs, Jeremy Ranch, Sun Peak, Summit Park, and other neighborhoods in the Snyderville Basin.
If the Municipal Tax rate increase is adopted, the owner of an average-priced home, valued at $500,000, would see a $24 per-year increase. The homeowner of an average-priced home in Service Area #6 would see an additional $24 per-year tax increase.
Jasper said he knows times have been hard for everyone, but it is time residents begin paying for the services they use instead of having them subsidized by the county’s General Fund.
"It is a minimal tax increase and one of the first ones residents have seen in years, Jasper said, adding that the additional taxes in Service Area #6 will fund road improvement projects and maintain service levels.
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Last Wednesday, the Council discussed potential raises for county employees despite budget decreases. Most county employees have not seen raises in over three years and the Council discussed two options: across-the-board or merit raises based on up to five percent of an employee’s current salary.
"We have the budget where it works and can accommodate the pay increases, plus it has been a lean couple of years as far as salary increases," said Councilmember John Hanrahan, adding that the cost of living had increased for everyone since the last time raises were given.
Summit County Personnel Director Brian Bellamy cautioned the Council against merit-based pay raises, saying the last time the county did that, three employees quit because they received no raise.
The county’s budget for 2012 is anticipated to be $1.3 million less than the 2011 budget. The current recommended budget is $44.6 million. Jasper said Summit County residents may see service reductions in certain areas due to the budget cuts, especially in animal control and the potential delay of plan checks in the building department.
Councilmember Claudia McMullen said that, so far, the biggest challenge in creating the budget has been appropriately forecasting revenue. The Council agreed to transfer more than $300,000 in anticipated property tax revenue for 2012 into a Surplus Fund where it will not be budgeted as expected revenue to reduce the risk of overspending.
The Summit County Council will hold its public budget hearing and Truth in Taxation hearing on Wed., Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. at the Summit County Courthouse, Council Chambers, 60 N. Main Street, Coalville.