The Utah County Commission fears a mistake by the state Tax Commission will cause the county's tax revenues to come up short.
Under a law enacted last year by the Legislature, the county this year began charging a quarter percent sales tax on retail goods."The Tax Commission notified the larger retail outlets that they should charge the sales tax but neglected to notify the smaller outlets. The result is that first-quarter sales tax collections were very disappointing," said Commission Chairman Gary R. Herbert.
The problem is compounded by the fact counties were given the right to collect sales tax, but the Legislature mandated they would have to cut property taxes by an equal amount the first year.
"The Tax Commission analyzes our property values, then tells us what our certified tax rate must be. We have to set the lower certified tax rate now, but if our sales tax revenues fall short through the rest of the year, we could be in financial trouble," Herbert said.
"We aren't allowed to have any tax windfall. If we should get more than the mandated revenue-neutral amount, then we have to go to Truth in Taxation and have public hearings," he said.
"The state estimates that we will receive $9 million in sales tax revenues. We have to cut our property taxes by that much, but what if our sales tax revenues are short? What if we only get $8 million instead of $9 million?" he said. "We need some figures we can rely on."
If revenues fall short, Herbert said, the county will have to borrow money or issue a tax anticipation note in order to meet 1999 obligations.