Group mounts opposition to tax increase
A group of local citizens is hoping to overturn the Summit County Council’s recent decision to increase its municipal services tax and the tax rate in Special Service Area #6, by putting the issue to voters. They filed an application on Aug. 27 to force the tax increase approval onto the 2014 ballot. The proposed increase would cost residents in the unincorporated areas of the county an additional $24 a year on every $500,000 of assessed valuation of their property tax bill.
If over 2100 signatures are gathered by Oct. 8, the tax rates will be frozen until the ballot determines if county residents want the increases or not. If not enough signatures are found, the increases will go into effect in November.
"It’s actually a very small amount of money. That’s not an awful lot of tax increase," Councilmember Sally Elliott said.
The municipal tax supports services in the unincorporated areas of the county and Service Area #6, which includes Snyderville Basin and surrounding area, including Highland Estates, Silver Springs, Sun Peak and Jeremy Ranch, has a tax to provide extra road maintenance and snow plow removal in those areas.
Residents who live in both Service Area #6 and unincorporated Summit County will be hit by both tax increases.
"It was costing us more to provide those services so we were having to dip into general county revenue and we perceive that as being unfair," Elliott said. "So this was simply an issue of fairness so that general county revenue did not have to be extended to provide specialized services to a small group of people."
She added the county has worked hard to ensure those who are receiving services are the ones paying for them.
The increases will not add additional services but will maintain the services the areas already receive.
"We have been performing those services even though we’ve been performing them at a loss to those accounts," Elliott said.
Jacqueline Smith, a Coalville resident and member of the conservative S.T.A.R. forum, is spearheading the referendum and says she concerned the county hasn’t done enough to cut back on spending before increasing the taxes.
"There was never a discussion of where we could cut back like the rest of society has had to during these hard times. Instead, when they see hard times they just decide to increase the tax and I think that’s unfortunate," Smith said.
She said they are fighting to hold the County Council responsible for staying within their budget.
"They are spending money on roads before a tax is passed and then threaten to cut back on our law enforcement," Smith said. "I find it sad that they already spent money for a planned tax increase when the tax increase didn’t pass yet, which shows you they planned to pass it all along. They didn’t really care what we were there for. It was more of a, ‘Well, we’ll listen to what you’re going to say but we’ve already made up our minds when we started spending money at the beginning of summer.’"
The taxes are expected to generate $960,000 from Service Area #6 and $3.1 million from the municipal tax fund after the increase.
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