After examining the budget proposal from the Utah County Commission for 2020 and studying the history of property tax rates and spending for the last several decades in the county, the Utah Taxpayers Association believes that an adjustment in the certified rate is appropriate. That being said, we do not agree that a 100% increase in the tax rate is needed.
Due to a lack of foresight for decades by previous members of the Commission, Utah County has only once in 33 years taken steps to restore purchasing power in their property tax revenue. That was done 23 years ago. That failure to act has now put the county at a tipping point. The Utah Taxpayers Association often supports taxing entities going through the Truth-in-Taxation process from time to time to recapture inflation by publicly making their case to taxpayers.
These adjustments have only ever been undertaken by Utah County once since the Truth-in-Taxation law took effect more than 30 years ago. Due to this, Utah County’s tax rate has dropped 72% from .001305 in 1986 to 0.000370 today. This is not sustainable.
New growth (new residential developments and the success of Silicon Slopes) has benefited the county in recent years, bringing with it new property tax revenue. New growth has enabled property tax revenues to grow 196% in real dollars since 1986, while population grew 269% over the same period. In other words, Utah County property taxes have grown 73% slower than population and inflation combined, while total statewide property taxes have increased 46% faster than inflation and population combined over a similar period.
Because of this Utah County has been deficit spending by over $8 million over the last several years, avoiding fiscal responsibility. Again, this is not sustainable.
The Utah Taxpayers Association recognizes the need for an adjustment in property tax rates. We urge commissioners to trim budget requests and prioritize spending in order to make the proposed tax hike much lower than originally proposed.