County officials avoid tax hike | ParkRecord.com

County officials avoid tax hike

Patrick ParkinsonOf the Record staff

Operating Summit County next year will cost close to $50 million.

Still, taxes will not increase, Summit County Commissioner Sally Elliott insisted.

"As long as we can possibly do it, we will manage the budget without tax hikes," she said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The wish list received this year from department heads totaled about $52 million.

"It is a tough balancing act," Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier said.

The county’s budget committee pared the requests down to the $42.3 million proposal the Summit County Commission is poised to approve today.

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"It represents a lot of thought and a lot of input," Elliott said about the budget recommendation.

A public hearing is scheduled to discuss the budget at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19 at the Summit County Courthouse, 60 N. Main in Coalville.

Commissioners will also likely approve a "long-term" capital facilities budget of $8.6 million for road and building projects in the county, Elliott explained.

"We’ve been saving money for certain projects," she said.

Driving that increase is the slated realignment of Landmark Drive, which is meant to help relieve traffic gridlock at Kimball Junction and could cost $8 million. It is the most significant road project planned next year in the county.

Officials also expect to build a new facility at Quinn’s Junction to perhaps headquarter the Summit County Health Department.

Among next year’s most significant increases is the cost for disposing of solid waste, Summit County Public Works Administrator Kevin Callahan said.

"The proposed ’08 budget has a significant bump," he said.

Increases will help pay for new hazardous materials and recycling drop-off centers at the county’s Three Mile Canyon landfill, he explained, adding that for several years solid-waste costs have risen steadily.

"How are we going to fund solid waste in the future?" Callahan asked members of the Summit County Commission.

Meanwhile, officials did not raise taxes in 2007 to balance a budget that increased 19 percent, according to Frazier.

But special projects are expensive so officials hope new growth continues to help cover budget spikes and more than ever they depend on revenue from sales tax.

"There are a lot of big projects," Frazier said. "We’ve got some building projects that we’ve got to get going."

In two decades, the amount of sales tax collected in Summit County increased 20 times to nearly $10 million per year, Frazier said.

"It’s making up a larger portion of the county’s budget," Frazier said. "And that’s a good thing because a lot of sales tax comes from outsiders."

New growth will help cover next year’s expenses, Elliott said.