While receiving the lowest general property tax revenue per household in 2011, Tooele County’s spending per household that same year is in the middle of the pack of Utah’s counties, according to state financial documents.
Tooele County’s general property tax revenue in 2011 works out to $105 per household, the lowest property tax collection per household in Utah, according to the most recent county financial statements posted on the Utah State Auditor’s website.
Also that year, the county’s expenses per household, not including construction and equipment purchases, was $2,521. That amount puts the county in 16th place among Utah’s 29 counties.
The average county expenses per household in Utah is $3,329.While Tooele County’s expenses per household appear average, they are greater than counties with a similar population; however, the difference is primarily due to variations in facilities, health department organization, and debt service.
County expenses by household ranges from $16,406 in Daggett County, which is Utah’s smallest county, to $855 per household in Cache County, the sixth largest by number of households.
There are a wide range of variables in county budget including services provided, facilities, and total population.
The five counties with the largest number of households are all below the median of expenses per household, and the five counties with the least number of households are all at or above the median expenses per household.
Tooele County has 18,019 households. The county closest in size to Tooele County is Box Elder with 15,891 households. Box Elder spent $1,525 per household in 2011.
Iron County with 15,313 households spent $1,513 per household in 2011.
If expenses for the Wendover Airport and Deseret Peak Complex are removed from the county’s 2011 expenses, the amount spent per household by Tooele County would have been $2,044.
The difference between the three counties’ expenses, after eliminating Tooele County’s expenses for Wendover Airport and Deseret Peak Complex, are in general government expenses, public health expenses, and interest and fiscal charges.
General government includes expenses for salaries and operating costs for courts, building maintenance, technology and human resources. It also includes the offices of the county commission, attorney, auditor, clerk, treasurer, recorder, assessor, and surveyor. General government does not include public safety, highways and public improvements, public health, or parks and recreation.
Iron County spent $7.6 million on general government in 2011 while Box Elder County spent $7.9 million on general government that same year. Tooele County spent $13.6 million on general government in 2011.
Public Health expenses show a large difference, however. Iron and Box Elder Counties are each part of multi-county health departments with a separate budget. Tooele County has a stand-alone health department with all revenue and expenses appearing on the county’s financial statements.
Iron County spent $693,175 on public health in 2011 while Box Elder County spent $621,761 on public health the same year. Tooele County spent $7.7 million on public health in 2011, but only $530,000 of that expense came from the county general fund. The balance of Tooele County’s health department is funded by state grants and charges for services. Similar revenue and expenses for Box Elder and Iron Counties would be part of the separate budget for their multi-county health departments and not appear on their individual county financial statements.
Adjusting Tooele County 2011 expenses for public health to $530,000, the county’s expenses per household in 2011 drops to $1,645.
Tooele County has a larger debt service than both Iron and Box Elder Counties. Box Elder spent $226,103 on debt service in 2011, while Iron County spent $221,634. Tooele County spent $2 million on debt service in 2011, which is $111 per household.
Subtract the $111 for debt service from Tooele County’s $1,645 adjusted expenses per household and that leaves $1,534 in expenses per household.
The county’s past spending patterns have Tooele County Commissioner Shawn Milne concerned.
“We simply expend too much for how little we collect from stable revenue sources,” he said. “And, I believe, the recent economic trend proves that it simply isn’t feasible to use temporary one-time monies towards long-term expenses, such as capital improvements that require lengthy and hefty debt service payments or perpetual maintenance and personnel costs.”