We’re often here writing about proposed tax increases on a local level and what citizens can do to try to prevent or argue against them. However, we’re seeing a proposal in Salt Lake County that would provide an ease for the tax burden on property owners in the county.
Council Member Dave Alvord and Council Member Dea Theodore proposed a resolution asking the Salt Lake County Mayor’s Office of Finance Administration to, in addition to proposing their own budget, propose an additional budget for the Council to study the idea of reducing the county’s property tax by 3% for the upcoming budget year.
The resolution (21-1062), was discussed during the County Council’s September 14, 2021 Work Session. Councilmember Alvord and Theodore’s proposal state that following the massive increase in federal funding throughout 2020, and the increasing financial burden on county residents, the council members would like to consider options to ease the burden on the county residents.
During the presentation, Councilmember Alvord stated the 3% reduction in the property tax would equal to roughly $6 million. For context, Salt Lake County’s total revenues in 2020 were $1.3 billion dollars, with $327 million collected in property taxes.
The County is also expected to collect new growth in the property tax in the upcoming year. For the 2021 budget year, Salt Lake County had an additional $3.1 billion in eligible new growth, which can be taxed against the county’s property tax rate (0.001777). This equated to $5.51 million in new revenue for the county this year alone. This would nearly entirely cover the roughly $6 million with a 3% reduction in the property tax.
In addition, Salt Lake County has a reserve fund policy that says the fund should have roughly 15% of county annual expenses, but it is currently sitting at roughly 20%. This means Salt Lake County has been collecting taxpayer dollars in excess to bolster its savings account beyond what the arbitrarily set policy requires. It is time to return a portion of that money to the taxpayer, as the sponsors of this resolution had asked.
To be clear, this resolution was not demanding a decrease in the property tax immediately. It was simply asking the Mayor’s office to study the possibility by preparing an additional budget with the decrease included and to make fiscally responsible recommendations in order to accomplish it.
Mayor Jenny Wilson and some members of the County Council itself however, seemed resistant to the idea of even studying the proposal. Both Councilmembers Granato and Bradshaw questioned the need against providing services the County already provides, even after the County received hundreds of millions in COVID-relief money in 2020 and even into 2021.
Council members Bradshaw and Granato eventually motioned to table the resolution with other councilmembers saying a cut in property taxes should be done through the traditional budgeting process. The resolution, again, was to provide two budgets from the Mayor’s office for the Council to review, with one providing for a 3% reduction in property taxes.
Given all these factors, the County has ample room to provide taxpayers with a much-needed property tax relief, particularly one that would cost the County virtually nothing in comparison to its overall annual budget.
Your Taxpayers Association is working with the County Council to keep the conversation moving forward to help provide much needed relief to all property taxpayers within Salt Lake.