PROVO — Utah County residents could find themselves paying more for any product purchased in the county.

The Board of County Commissioners is contemplating a small sales tax increase in order to enhance the budget for the I-15 expansion project. During the past session, legislators passed a bill that allows the commissioners to increase the sales tax in the county if they choose. The commission has to have approval from the Legislature to increase the county sales tax.

One-tenth of a cent is the most the commission could raise the tax to bring in the funding, said Commissioner Larry Ellertson.

Commissioner Steve White said the commission members didn't know about the bill.

"We're happy with it because we got I-15 built, but it's not something we lobbied for or knew was coming, but we're glad it's here," he said.

The increase will garner about $7.7 million a year for the county to use for the road, White said.

He added that the increase wouldn't take effect at least until January, possibly later.

County attorneys are currently reviewing the bill to determine the timetable for the tax and when the commission can vote on a decision, Ellertson said.

"We're happy about the fact that we're seeing a significant state investment in terms of the project," he said.

However, state officials wanted those receiving the benefit of a wider interstate to also invest and contribute to its creation, what they call "skin in the game," said Commissioner Gary Anderson. This expansion project will be the biggest road project the state has ever undertaken and it is also one of the largest road projects in the nation, he said.

Utah Department of Transportation officials originally drafted the project from 12300 South in Salt Lake County to the Payson Main Street exit, which would have cost the state about $5 billion, and included widening the freeway to 12 lanes in spots and rebuilding overpasses. The Legislature scaled it back and the project will run from American Fork Main Street to Spanish Fork Main Street.

Commissioners don't know yet when they will vote on the increase.


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