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December 10, 2013
Municipal tax may hit area businesses hard

Tooele County’s proposed Municipal Service Tax will have businesses in unincorporated areas of the county digging deeper for more cash in 2014.

On Dec. 3 the county commissioners voted to start the process to adopt the new tax that will be added to the 2014 property tax bill for all property owners in unincorporated areas of the county.

The additional tax is needed to pay for municipal type services that the county provides to property owners in unincorporated areas, according to Bruce Clegg, county commission chairman.

Such services include law enforcement, animal control, and building and road maintenance.

At the Dec. 3 meeting, property owners from Lake Point and South Rim told the commissioners they oppose the new tax. Their opposition is joined by at least one business owner who doesn’t like the idea of a new tax either.

“I think they are trying to tax me out of business,” said Alan Bradshaw, owner of the Motor Vu Theater in Erda. “My taxes used to be $900 a year. Now I pay between $4,000 and $5,000. One year it went up 400 percent.”

Despite the opposition at the Dec. 3 meeting, the commissioners adopted a $1.5 million cap on revenue from the new tax. The exact amount to be levied next year will be determined after an independent consulting firm examines actual municipal service costs.

If the maximum amount of revenue is raised by the tax, and if the certified tax rate stays the same in 2014, the tax rate in unincorporated Tooele County will rise from .002176 to .002928, a .000752 increase.

The effect of the new tax rate means the average $150,000 homeowner in Tooele City will pay the county $180 in property taxes while the owner of a home with the same value in Erda, Lake Point, Stansbury Park, South Rim, or any other unincorporated area of the county will pay $242.

That will be 25 percent more than the taxes on a $150,000 home in 2013.

Due to state law, homeowners are only taxed on 55 percent of their home’s assessed value. Business owners, however, do not receive any discount. While the .000752 increase generates $62 more from a $150,000 home, a business of the same value will pay an additional $113 in 2014.

“I’m not happy with our commissioners right now,” Bradshaw said. “I’m just trying to run my business and provide jobs. I can’t just raise my prices when taxes go up. People are already complaining about our prices and driving to Salt Lake City to see movies.”

Bradshaw wants the county commissioners to cut some more from the budget, especially from Deseret Peak Complex.

“They need to learn to cut their losses,” he said. “They keep putting money into Deseret Peak and it keeps losing money. Deseret Peak is my competition. When they have big events my business goes down. So I’m paying taxes to keep my competition open.”

The proposed 2014 $58 million budget to be adopted at the county commission’s Dec. 17 meeting includes $1.5 in revenue from the new municipal services tax.

The independent study on municipal service costs will be ready this spring with the adoption of the actual rate for the municipal services tax scheduled for June 2014.

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