A complicated federal law case won by railroads, which trims their property taxes, has lawmakers wondering how to react. Senators discussed the difficult case in their Tuesday caucus, but came to no conclusion.
Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, co-chairman of the Executive Appropriation Committee, said the federal ruling means the state can no longer exclude railroad property from the 20 percent discount rule applied to other properties. Railroad, mine and utility properties are assessed by the state. All other property is assessed by county assessors. State assessed property hadn't been getting that 20 percent discount, and some railroads sued and won in federal court.Hillyard's advice to lawmakers: Follow the court order and give railroads the tax break. That will cost the state's school fund about $300,000 a year. Any attempt to mess with locally-assessed property - homes and businesses - would result in a tax increase for someone and senators don't want that in this sensitive tax climate.