Utahns took to the ballot to decide issues throughout the state that will have implications on taxpayers for years to come.
Keep in mind, these results are only preliminary and may change as the vote tally continues to update.
Summit County Bond for Open Space
Voters in Summit County appear to have overwhelmingly favored a proposal to purchase property within the county in order to preserve it as open space. While not specifically designated, the county outlines what the proposed spaces can be used for:
- Passive or active open space
- Conservation easements
- Recreational amenities
- Environmental and wildlife mitigation measures
The proposed $50 million bond would raise taxes on a primary residence valued at $715,000, by$40 annually. Businesses and secondary residential properties would pay an extra $73 per year.
The Utah Taxpayers Association has, in the past, opposed these types of bonds. While open space is important, burdening taxpayers with this at the possible expense of other more vital government services is questionable.
69% of voters approved of this bond, with 10,988 votes cast.
Park City School District
As one wealthiest school district in the state, according to the Association’s 2021 School Spending Report, the Park City School District asked voters to approve a nearly $80 million bond for building additions to existing schools.
According to calculations done by the Association, Park City School District spent $1,542 per student in facility construction in FY 2020, and the passage of the bond will add to this.
These construction projects are all additions to existing facilities, including Park City High School. This addition is estimated to cost $54 million and would move the 9th grade into the high school.
This would raise taxes $100.18 per year on a $945,912 primary residence and $182.14 per year on a business property having the same value.
So far, the bond appears to have passed with 64.3% of the total 7,896 votes cast.
Iron County School District
In southern Utah, voters in Iron County were asked to approve a $69.5 million bond for remodels and additions to existing schools, as well as the reconstruction of an elementary school.
The district also plans on building a new transportation facility.
The bond will increase taxes on the average $300,000 home by $212, and $385 for businesses of the same value if it passes.
The bond has 54% support, out of 10,640 votes cast.
Iron County School District also plans on proposing another bond in 2023.
Weber County School District
The Weber School District asked voters to approve a $279 million bond. This bond will construct a new high school, new junior high, new elementary school and reconstruction of Roosevelt Elementary.
The cost of the new high school is estimated at $157 million, the junior high clocks in at $51 million, and the new elementary will cost $34 million.
In their materials on information on the bond, the Weber County School District claims the bond will not raise the property tax rate.
While in theory, this is technically correct, the Utah Taxpayers Association always pushes against this claim. If not for this bond, taxpayers would see tax relief as prior bonds expire, therefore seeing a decrease in their property taxes from the school district.
In addition, due to Utah’s Truth-in-Taxation system, as property values rise, the tax rate decreases, in order to maintain steady revenue to the school district and other governmental entities. Without an increase in property taxes through a bond, the rate would decrease from the prior year.
The rate may not technically increase from the bond and it definitely wouldn’t as valuations rise, but it would have decreased at a more significant rate without the bond.
As of this writing, the bond appears to have passed with 61% approving, out of 30,914 votes.
Boutique Taxes (RAP, ZAP, PARC)
RAP taxes, often called “boutique taxes,” are sales taxes levied to provide revenue for a specific spending priority. These sales taxes have different names among government entities but are usually levied to fund similar services.
The tax, which is levied at a rate of one cent per every $10 spent, is typically used to fund city or county art programs, recreational programs, cultural events, museums and zoos.
Voters in 8 Utah cities are all considering these types of taxes on the November ballot. Approval of these taxes creates a guaranteed revenue stream for specific programs, which your Taxpayers Association has long argued is poor tax policy.
While the programs may be worthwhile, they ought to compete against other spending priorities for funding in the entity’s budget. For example, budget shortfalls may force a city to lay off essential police officers, while the RAP tax spending priorities still receive a guaranteed funding stream.
Elected officials should have the ability to decide how best to use tax funds and not be beholden to maintain funding for certain projects when essential city services are at stake.
- Mona: Results not posted
- American Fork: 76% for, 24% against
- Kaysville: 70% for, 30% against
- Highland: 63% for, 37% against
- Monroe: N/A
- Lehi: 63% for, 37% against
- South Weber: 59% for, 41% against
- Springville: 69% for, 31% against