Tooele City Mayor Debbie Winn said she and the City Council are still looking into ways to lessen the impact of a proposed property tax rate increase with a truth-in-taxation hearing 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall.
Concerned citizens are invited to attend the hearing.
“It’s not a done deal yet until the council votes on Wednesday,” Winn said. “We are still discussing and trying to find ways to lessen the impact.”
The City Council is scheduled to adopt a certified property tax rate for the 2018-19 fiscal year that is more than double the rate residents paid to the City during the last fiscal year.
A recent public notice regarding the proposed increase shows that a person owning a residential property valued at $191,200 paid about $192.55 last year. If the increased tax rate is approved, the same homeowner would pay $413.80 this year, nearly a 115 percent increase.
According to the public notice, a commercial property valued at $191,200 paid about $350 last year. If the tax rate is approved, that same commercial property owner would pay $752.37 this year.
Many small business owners in Tooele City are concerned over the proposed increase in their property tax payment to the City, Jared Hamner, executive director of the Tooele County Chamber of Commerce, said in a previous interview.
“Obviously, they’re quite concerned,” Hamner said. “Some of them say they will be OK if people shop locally. Business owners I’ve talked to said they wish the tax increase could have been done incrementally instead of all at once.”
Hamner said he has talked mostly to small business owners like barber shops and antique shops.
“They’re concerned because now they have to readjust their budgets,” Hamner said.
The proposed certified tax rate is 0.003935 compared to the previous year’s rate of 0.001831.
“The tax increase is only to get us into a position to catch up with the cost of labor, pay off the lawsuit, build our police station and purchase a small amount of equipment,” Winn said. The mayor responded to a question about the tax rate staying at the same rate in the future.
“I hope that with increased sales tax and growth, the City will be able to maintain the rate for a time,” she said. “I can’t make any promises on what (budgeting) recommendation I will need to make next year.”
Council Chairman Steve Pruden said the increased rate will help the City pay its bills and achieve its long-term goals.
“I don’t anticipate the rate being increased for a long time. We are making adjustments now to keep up with inflation,” he said.
“If somebody brings us evidence Wednesday night and we are swayed that we could accomplish the budgetary things the mayor has presented such as building the police station and increasing pay for police officers, we could adjust the budget,” Pruden said.
The mayor said the City’s staff has concluded that delaying construction of a police station would cost the city more in the long run because of the rising cost of materials and labor.
The proposed tax increase would add an additional $3 million to the general fund.
About $1.1 million of the added revenue to the City’s budget would go toward payroll adjustments with about $800,000 of that amount toward the police department, the mayor said.
About $678,406 would got to the tax shortfall, $458,364 for payment on a new $7 million police station, $403,522 toward a judgment levy and $300,000 for equipment.
“So much of this is about public safety,” Winn said. “When we held our town hall meeting, the overwhelming response from the public was that we need more police officers and that public safety is important so that is what we’re giving them.”
The City Council agenda for Wednesday includes proposed zoning changes at Utah Industrial Depot and a public hearing and motion on mixed uses for the Broadway Zoning District.
Those two items are followed by public hearings on the certified tax rate and the budget. The council will then consider adopting the certified tax rate and the budget for fiscal 2018-19.