Despite the threat of tax limitation in the air, the Salt Lake City Council is considering raising city taxes this year.
Discovery of a $1 million drop in revenues from state-assessed property taxes caused Mayor Palmer DePaulis to shave his general-fund budget proposal from $80.3 million to $79.4 million.The shortfall swung a particular blow at the Salt Lake City Public Library, because its entire budget is made up of property-tax revenues.
In a straw poll, a majority of the council agreed to consider raising taxes $3.44 or $5.41 on an average $70,000 home. The council is considering either a 5- or 10-year schedule of capital improvements for the library.
To not raise taxes would leave a $353,824 chasm in the library's proposed budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"This is the library, the seat of all knowledge," said Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck, in defending the possible tax hike. "Even the tax-limitation people like to read," said Councilman Wayne Horrocks.
If taxes are raised above the certified tax, that would mean the city would be the only taxing entity in the valley to be forced by state law to hold a truth-in-taxation hearing.
The hearing is usually considered an exercise in frustration, as it is scheduled at least a month after the city's budget is adopted.
Last week, Councilwoman Roselyn Kirk urged that the council not alter taxes enough to trigger the hearing, as all residents who feel burdened by taxes will use the meeting as a place to vent their frustrations, even if they don't live in the city.
Councilwoman Florence Bittner said the proposed tax increase won't cost residents much more than the price of a hamburger. "I don't know about anybody else, but I don't think sitting through the hearing should be the determining factor (o not raise taxes)," she said.
Councilman Alan Hardman said he's not opposed to the library, but it is the principle of raising taxes in such bad economic times that bothers him. Since Hardman came on the council in January, he has been trying to eliminate the city's $4 monthly garbage fee, although he hasn't been able to raise much support for the idea.