As August winds down, taxpayers are seeing the end of the many Truth in Taxation hearings taking place across the state. As we wrote in our newsletter last month, there are approximately 90 taxing entities raising taxes this year, compared to the typical average of 60.
Many of the hearings around the state featured packed rooms with hours of testimony from concerned and frustrated taxpayers voicing their concerns. In many instances, taxpayers felt that their voice was not being heard and that the decision to raise taxes had been made long before the hearing. It is important for taxpayers to engage with their elected officials well before the hearing and express their concerns. That effort needs to start as early as the spring budget hearings and continue all the way through until the Truth in Taxation hearing.
However, in two notable cases, elected officials did listen to the concerns of citizens.
The City Council of St. George voted down their proposed tax increase. The City made an extensive effort to educate the public on their plan to fund public safety and other items with the increase in budget, however, the council voted 4-1 to decline the proposed tax increase. Hundreds of residents showed up to the hearing and voiced their concerns. After a long meeting and after a few motions, Council Members Michelle Tanner, Greg McArthur, Natalie Larsen and Jimmie Hughes voted against the tax increase. The City Council will now figure out ways to fund their priorities with virtually the same revenue as last year.
The Tooele School board also voted to not follow through on their proposed tax increase after listening to taxpayers express their concerns at their Truth in Taxation hearing. A few months earlier, the board adopted a budget that would have increased property taxes on those in the district’s boundaries. Despite that motion, a motion was made at the Truth in Taxation hearing to adopt the lower certified tax rate for the district in order to not increase taxes. That motion passed unanimously with all council members voting in favor- Council Members Valaree Shields, Scott Bryan, Julia Holt, Melissa Rich, Alan Mouritsen, Camille Knudson, and Robert Gowans.
There were also several taxing entities that voted to increase taxes less than what was originally proposed. From the data that the Association has been able to gather to this date, the following taxing entities voted to increase taxes less than proposed:
North Ogden City
North Logan City
Fruit Heights City
Besides the taxing entities mentioned above, the remainder of the 90 taxing entities that proposed tax increases in 2022 voted those increases through. The Utah Taxpayers Association will continue to monitor proposed tax hikes for the remainder of the year as counties prepare to go through the same process towards the end of the year.