It's a safe bet the Midvale residents who crowded into City Hall recently didn't show up to talk about certified tax rates, franchise fees and the city's computer network needs.
The special City Council meeting on Sept. 17 was called to discuss a proposed property tax increase.Most residents opposed a tax hike, and most probably left the meeting happy.
The council voted 3-2 against what would have been the city's first property tax increase in more than 20 years.
Councilman Gary Yengich said the city had to remain true to its promise that Midvale's recent annexation of the Fort Union area would not cost residents.
"I'm not raising taxes, I'm staying behind what we said," Yengich said.
His colleague, Keith Alexander, added that it's a cop-out for elected leaders to hike taxes every time money's tight.
"We in government need to tighten our belts . . . we need to keep our promises," he said.
Council members Colleen Costello and Kent King voted for the increase, which would have raised property taxes 14 percent for Midvale residents.
Both said any decision to raise taxes was difficult but expressed concern that the quality of city services could be jeopardized without additional dollars.
Some of Midvale's top police officers and public servants might seek employment in neighboring cities if Midvale can't be competitive, King warned.
Councilman Wayne Sharp cast the deciding nay vote, saying recent trends in government are making people question the honesty of their elected leaders.
Thursday's defeated tax increase was proposed when the city realized it miscalculated its tax revenues while drafting the 1998-99 budget.
The annexation combined two communities, Midvale and a section of unincorporated Salt Lake County, that operate on different certified tax rates, leaving the city with about a $160,000 shortfall.
The proposed 14 percent increase would have generated money to cover the shortfall, which amounts to about 1 percent of the budget.
Several residents who spoke against a tax increase encouraged the council to first amend the city's $10 million budget.
Resident Doug Wright said it would be a violation of public trust to raise taxes so soon after annexation.
Others conceded a post-annexation tax hike may be needed to best serve Midvale residents.
"It only costs a little more to go first class, and we're in a first class direction," Marlo Menlove said.
Now city department heads will have to decide how to slice about $160,000 out of their budgets. The matter will likely be discussed at the council's Sept. 29 meeting.