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Property Values and Property Taxes

In the midst of a sluggish economy, taxes are going up in many parts of Utah. It’s a perfect storm for property owners, especially in Salt Lake County.

The cost of running government is forcing all of us to dig deeper into our pockets, even as our property values go down. Sunday Edition is joined by Lee Gardner, the Salt Lake County assessor, and the vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, Royce Van Tassell.

A property owner can take action if their value appears too high on their property tax notice.

“The one thing that people can do is look at their tax notice and see if the value represents fair market value as of Jan. 1, 2010. If they think it does not, then they should appeal it to the county board of equalization,” explains Gardner.

Citizens can attend “Truth in Taxation” hearings, but to make a difference many people need to attend.

“There has to be a huge influx of people attending,” Gardner says. He says last year it had an effect in Riverton. “Conversely in Salt Lake City last year, there was one person who attended the ‘Truth in Taxation’ hearing,” Gardner describes. “One person is not going to have any effect whatsoever on the budget.”

Residents can also shape long-term policy.

“The most important thing is to look carefully at the candidates and let people know that they are not willing to pay more for fewer services. People in Salt Lake City, in particular, are facing a perfect storm. Taxpayers stepped up and said we are willing to pay for the public safety bond and they are being slapped in the face by saying we want another $2 million tax increase just in Salt Lake City,” explains Van Tassell. “I think the possibility of a taxpayer revolt is very real.”