The effort to amend the state tax law to allow cities to cash in on growth may be dead for this session of the Legislature, city officials in Davis County learned this week.
Syracuse Mayor DeLore Thurgood, spearheading the effort to amend the Truth in Taxation law, told mayors Wednesday the lawmakers aren't looking kindly on the cities' effort.The bill to amend the law has itself been amended to the point that it is worse than the original, Thurgood told the city officials at Wednesday's Davis Council of Governments session.
If the bill can't be saved or amended back to its original form on the floor of the state House of Representatives, it may be held and reworked during the interim session, Thurgood said.
The current law limits cities to collecting the same amount of property tax from one year to the next. Cities that are growing and increasing their total assessed valuation have to reduce their property tax rate each year to maintain that constant level of collection.
To raise the rate, or in the case of high-growth cities, to maintain the same rate, which results in collecting more taxes, the cities have to declare a formal property tax increase.
The law requires cities planning to raise their taxes to advertise the fact in a quarter-page newspaper ad and hold a public hearing.
Thurgood's proposal, drawn up and submitted to the Legislature through the Utah League of Cities and Towns, would allow cities to keep their tax rate at the same level, even if it means collecting more taxes, from year to year.
But legislators view the proposal as an effort to "make an end run around the law," Thurgood said. "They think we're trying to get around the advertising and public hearing requirements, and that's just not true," he said.
Thurgood urged the mayors at the council meeting to contact their area legislators and try to counter that perception. But if the bill can't be amended back to what it was originally, Thurgood advised the best move would be to hold it until the next session, putting it into an interim study committee.