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House committee kills bill to require 'opinion vote' prior to property tax increases

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 8:05 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A House committee killed a bill that would have required local governments to conduct an "opinion vote" prior to raising property taxes above rates of inflation.

The House Judiciary Committee took no action on HB397, which sponsor Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, said "is a fundamental change to the truth-in-taxation procedure."

Nielson said he filed the legislation at the request of elderly constituents who have told him that property tax hikes imposed by local governments were forcing them out of their homes.

Opponents argued that locally elected officials abide by state statutes and the state's truth-in-taxation laws when they consider property tax hikes.

Barbara Smith, a member of the Davis Board of Education, said local government entities "are very cognizant" of statutory requirements as well as the political implications of property tax increases.

In Davis County, voters have voted out county commissioners who imposed a large tax property increases, Smith said.

But Ron Mortensen of Citizens for Tax Fairness urged the committee to approve the bill.

"It's good public policy. It does add a layer of protection for senior citizens. It does help avoid these huge increases," he said.

Nielson said he sponsored the legislation to ensure government doesn't grow beyond taxpayers' ability to support it.

"This is pricing people out of their homes. That's what were talking about," he said.

Marjorie Cortez

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