Property tax to replace politically unpopular law enforcement fee; other taxes detailed
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake County's politically unpopular law enforcement fee is going away, to be replaced by a property tax assessment by the Salt Lake Valley Law Enforcement Service Area.
But when affected county taxpayers receive their annual tax notice, it will indicate a 100 percent increase.
"It's a shift not an increase. We're not bringing in any more money," said Kerri Nakamura, administrative aide to at-large Salt Lake County Councilman Jim Bradley, chairman of the service area board of trustees.
The property tax assessment for an average home in the service area valued at $230,700 will be $22 lower than the combination of the law enforcement fee and municipal services fund tax.
The service area assessment will be solely dedicated to public safety, Nakamura said. And unlike the fee, property tax can be deducted from federal income taxes.
To help explain the change in funding stream, the service area has mailed postcards to households and businesses titled "DON'T LET YOUR TAX NOTICE CONFUSE YOU."
"If you go from zero to anything, it's 100 percent increase," Nakamura explained. Most property owners will realize a tax savings under the funding mechanism, she said.
Thus far, the service area has received few telephone calls since mailing the post cards, a sharp contrast to the thousands of calls received when county residents and business owners were mailed the inaugural police fee bills. The Utah Legislature ultimately intervened in the issue, eliminating the law enforcement fee as means to generate revenue. That resulted in the service area levying a property tax.
"The proof will be in the pudding, when people actually get their tax notices," she said. "The call volume has been far less than in anticipation of the fee. I'd like to think that's because we've done a good job of explaining this."
The special service area will conduct a Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Unified Police Department, 3365 S. 900 West.
For more information, property owners can visit the service area's website at www.slvlesa.org.
Meanwhile, the Salt Lake City Suburban Sanitary District No. 1 plans to seek an 89 percent tax increase to upgrade aging infrastructure.
District general manager Kerry Eppich acknowledged that at first glance, a near-90 percent increase in revenue is eye popping.
"It's a small dollar amount but it's a large percentage," he said.
For a home valued at $223,000, property tax for this assessment would increase $22.69 under the proposal. Commercial property tax would go up $41.25.
But it is also the first property tax increase the special service district has sought in at least 20 years, he said.
The wastewater collection system is more than 55 years old.
Many lines in the system need to be rehabilitated, which is five times less expensive than replacing failing lines, according to the district's website.
"We've maintained them throughout that time but they're to the point now that we need significant upgrades," Eppich said.
Rather than replace the lines, most will be relined "to extend their useful life."
The district has identified $9.4 million worth of capital projects that require rehabilitation within the next five years.
"We have 380 miles of lines in our area. It's out-of-sight, out-of-mind for most people. They don't realized how much infrastructure there is in the ground that has to be maintained," Eppich said.
The district will conduct a Truth in Taxation hearing at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at the district office, 3932 S. 500 East.
Six other municipal or special service entities in Salt Lake County will conduct hearings regarding proposed property tax increases in August, including a 15.5 percent hike in West Jordan City; 14.5 percent in Taylorsville City and nearly 14 percent by the Oquirrh Recreation and Parks District.
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