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Comments about ‘In our opinion: Raising property taxes another $30.9 million would be a troubling hike’

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Published: Friday, Nov. 16 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

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Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

Has the Deseret News raised the price of its subscriptions in the last 12 years?

Richard Votaw
Sandy, UT

Does anyone thinks for one second that this raise was such a secret until 2 days AFTER the election wasn't a move to keep McAdmas viable? If Peter Morron had announced this before the election, McAdmas would have lost by a landslide.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

Blue brings up an excellent point. What business out there has been able to hold its prices level for 12 years, in the face of steadily increasing "cost of goods (or services) sold", and remain viable?

Well, Salt Lake County is in the business of providing local government services such as public safety, libraries, parks & rec, Meals-on-Wheels, flood control management, exposition & convention facilities, community health services, etc. on a not-for-profit basis (these services generally could not be provided profitably by the private sector).

The County has provided these services admirably (in my opinion) since 2001 without a general property tax increase (the "price" of providing these services), and has increasingly had to "cannibalize" itself to do so, due to general inflation. A little "self-cannibalization" is not necessarily a bad thing, as it leads to greater efficiencies, but too much is like seeking better health and fitness through anorexia.

Also, the statement from the article, "In addition, the 140,000 new residents have provided the county with greater tax revenues" is not entirely true. The County has lost "new growth" tax revenue to RDAs, State-assessed properties (Kennecott), and declines in personal property values.

Maudine
SLC, UT

Corroon's proposed tax hike should not be a surprise to anyone. He has been talking about the need for it for years and wanted to do it in increments.

If you were surprised by this, you weren't paying attention.

If you object to this, start making a list of what county services you are willing to do without - keeping in mind that if you expect your city or state government to pick up the slack, they are going to need more money also.

GZE
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Contrary to the the recommendations of this piece, word is that the Republican-led County Council is actually discussing a larger tax hike than the one proposed by the Mayor.

Owl
Salt Lake City, UT

Property tax rates may not have gone up, but property assessments have escalated wildly in the face of falling property values. The result is that property taxes have gone up. The government must use the same sharp pencil in budget matters that is used in business and citizens must accept that there is still no free lunch.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

Owl,

You just repeated a misconception that seems to pervade discussions about property taxes; namely, that changes in property values somehow cause property taxes to go up generally. When property values go up on average (generally the case, but not recently), property tax rates go down, yielding the same amount of property tax revenue as the prior year, plus (in theory) new growth. When property values go down on average, property tax rates go up, again yielding the same amount of property tax revenue as the prior year, plus (again, in theory) new growth.

If an individual's property value goes up more, or down less, than the Countywide average, then their property tax will increase slightly over the prior year; and vice versa.

No amount of "pencil sharpening" on the County's part would ever be enough to offset the eroded value of property tax revenues due to inflation over time.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

I don't think most people here understand how property taxes work for buildings, since that is the tax going up.

If you bothered to read your property tax assesment for the year, youfind that what you pay in taxes is proportional to the assessed value of your building (home or business).

For example, if you currently pay 1% of the assessed value of your $200,000 home, they will get $2000. However next year if your home value goes up to $220,000, they will collect $2200. The county will collect more taxes as the value of your home increases.

What has happened is that home values have tanked, and the county wants to keep spending money on non-essential things like parks and trails. If they would cut the non-essential spending, they may not have to increase taxes so much.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

No, RedShirt; you're the one who doesn't get how property taxes work. You need to re-read my previous post (focusing on comprehension might help).

Property tax ISN'T like sales tax, where the same tax rate applies year after year, and the tax goes up when the value (or price, in the case of sales tax) goes up.

From the Utah State Tax Commission website, property tax section, Truth in Taxation page:
"Statutes require that each year a certified tax rate be calculated. The certified tax rate is the rate which will provide the same amount of property tax revenue as was charged in the previous year excluding the revenue generated by new growth."

So, simply stated:
Property value goes up = property tax rate goes down = same property tax paid (+/- variance from average value change)
Property value goes down = property tax rate goes up = same property tax paid (+/- variance from average value change)

Nobody believes this, though, because everybody's yearly property value change varies from the countywide average value change, meaning that the amount of property tax owed to a taxing entity (like Salt Lake County) varies from year to year.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "SG in SLC" again, you are wrong. See the DN article "Davis school board approves 9.3 percent tax increase" they somewhat explain how the tax rate is proportional to the home value. If that isn't enough of an explaination, go to the Utah constitution. In Article XIII, Section 2, it requires "All tangible property in the State, not exempt under the laws of the United States, or under this Constitution, shall be taxed at a uniform and equal rate in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as provided by law."

Did you notice the phrase "proportion to its value"? That means that per the Utah constitution your property taxes can change from year to year based only on the market value of your home.

Do you even look at your property tax notices? They are very easy to read, and indicate that it is a proportional tax based on the value of the home, not the desired tax revenue.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

I've worked in city or county government finance for the past 15+ years, extensively involved in the property tax rate-setting process, so I know what I am talking about.

"In proportion to its value" (ad valorem) means that a "rate" is uniformly applied to the taxable value of all taxable properties within a taxing entity's boundaries to determine each property's tax owed. This is in contrast to the age-based "fee in lieu of tax" currently levied on vehicles.

However, it doesn't say ANYTHING about the "proportional" rate staying constant from year to year, or about whether changes in the rate can vary inversely with changes in property values (they do).

In your previous example, if the home value goes up to $220,000, (assuming the countywide average value increase was also 10%) the countywide tax rate would go down to 0.909091%, yielding the same $2000 property tax from that home.

And yes, I've looked at my tax notice. I would suggest looking at the taxable value, the rate for an entity that hasn't raised taxes, and the resulting tax levied from 3-4 years of YOUR tax notices. It might be illuminating.

Gildas
LOGAN, UT

Property tax: if someone has a smaller, and very modest, income this year they shouldn't be asked to pay more property tax than they did last year, as they likely can't afford it. By submitting your previous year's tax form to a county, if it is less than an amount determined by county government, you may have your cureent year's property tax reduced in many cases but this remission seems to me likely to be insufficient and belated.

Government needs to spend less in a recession than when times are better; the people are struggling and the counties, like the pharisees excoriated by Jesus in the New Testament, tend to lay burdens on men's shoulders that are grievous to be borne, yet, too often, they will not lift a little finger to help them bear that burden.

Salt Lake County apparently sees 140,000 new residents as a liability instead of as a larger tax base. Are these all illegal residents, paying little tax? Possibly. Are they going to clamp down on illegal immigration? That would be a novelty!

County governments too often appear to have little or no principles, or good ideas.

DVD
Taylorsville, 00

Is an alternative available in a county sales tax? Losing the services provided, even the 'non-essential' services, which apparently the voters felt were essential enough, would have an effect on the region.

Shaun
Sandy, UT

@sg in slc. Reading your post makes sense but my taxes have gone up as the value of my home has gone up. So how is it possible for the county to take in the same revenue but I pay more? Is it because someone else is paying less because their home value went down and in the end it's neutral for the county but not for homeowners?

Flashback
Kearns, UT

My home value has gone down the last few years, my taxes have gone up. My home was valued $3000.00 less this year and my taxes went up. Largely due to the law enforcement fee.

I have a suggestion. Privatize the golf courses, privatize the Taj Mahal recreation centers. The county shouldn't be in the exercise business. If the citys that they are in want to buy them and operate them, fine. The county should get out of the gym business. If I want to exercise, I'll buy a membership at Golds Gym. I get assessed a tax for the Oquirrh Park fitness center, due to the special service district. I also have to pay a yearly entry fee. I'm also getting taxed to pay for the other facilites that are not in Kearns. Double or triple taxation.

Henderson
Orem, UT

What's wrong with raising taxes in order to pay for necessary programs, structures, and services?

Don't like it?

Move away.

Here in Utah we act as if we're completely overtaxed. Please move to another state and your eyes will soon be opened.

ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

Please double my property taxes and give my kids a public school worth attending. I wouldn't send a dog to a Utah public school (and I don't even like dogs).

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