November 27, 2002
Re: Proposed 138% Davis County Tax Increase
Contact: Mike Jerman, Vice President, 972-8814 (office), 808-8814 (cell)
Residents are urged to attend Truth-in-Taxation hearing at 6 pm, Monday, December 2nd at the County Courthouse in Farmington.
Davis County Commissioners are proposing a 138% increase in the county’s portion of the property tax. The increase in the county’s portion of the property tax would cause a typical resident’s property tax bill to increase by 15%.
“Davis County families and businesses cannot afford such an unprecedented tax increase” said Mike Jerman, Vice President of the Utah Taxpayers Association. “Utahns already bear the 9th highest tax and fee burden in the nation, and a 138% tax increase is a step in the wrong direction” added Jerman.
An analysis of Davis County’s budget clearly demonstrates that most of this tax increase is not necessary.
1. If this tax increase is approved, Davis County general fund, debt service, and library expenditures will have grown by more than 10% annually since 1996. This growth rate is well in excess of inflation and population growth and even exceeds the annual growth rate of Utah state government.
2. If this tax hike is approved, Davis County’s general fund and debt service spending per capita will be more than 50% higher than Utah County’s per capita spending. Utah County, which is actually reducing spending this year, is economically and demographically similar to Davis County and serves as a good benchmark. County Commissioners are attributing the unprecedented tax increase to the construction and operation of a new jail. However, nearly half of the tax increase is unrelated to the jail. In addition to the jail expansion, Davis County intends to hire an additional 31 employees and purchase 40 new vehicles with this tax increase. Also, county employees will receive a 1.5% cost-of-living increase and up to a 3.25% merit pay increase. Utah County and Cache County have built jails in the past couple of years but have been able to avoid tax increases of this magnitude.
Of Utah’s 29 counties, twenty-one counties have officially released their 2003 budgets, and only three are raising taxes. If Davis County Commissioners approve this tax increase, Davis County’s tax rate will be the seventh highest in the state and will be 48% higher than the state average. “Counties with higher tax rates are typically rural counties with small tax bases and perpetually stagnant economies. A middle class, suburban county like Davis County should have a tax rate that is much lower than a rural, less affluent county like Sanpete or Piute”, added Jerman.
Fortunately, Davis County taxpayers have an opportunity to protest this tax increase by attending the December 2nd Truth-in-Taxation hearing at the County Courthouse in Farmington. According to Jerman, “Last August, Moroni City proposed a 167% property tax increase. City residents showed up to the Truth-in-Taxation hearing in droves, and the city scaled back the tax increase considerably.
“Local governments need tax revenues to provide critical services, but a 138% tax increase when unemployment and bankruptcy rates are at historic highs is unconscionable. Many people in the private sector who still have jobs are not getting pay raises. Davis County should follow state government’s example by reducing spending instead of increasing taxes” concluded Jerman.