Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

June 21, 2018
Tooele City approves 115-percent tax hike

Tooele residents express angst over proposed increase at public hearing 

Tooele residents packed Tooele City Council Chambers Wednesday night and spoke out against a proposed 115-percent hike in property taxes during a public hearing.

About 60-70 people attended the hearing, and most of the 14 people who spoke said the rate was too high of an increase for one year. The hearing continued for nearly two hours.

“If taxes haven’t been raised in 36 years, I don’t think you can make up for it in one year,” said MaryAnn Bickmore.

“It’s a lot to ask for all at once,” Frank Shafer said. “Focus on police and paying the judgment levy for now. It’s scary to see it all asked for at one time.”

Council members indicated the final tax rate won’t be finalized until Aug. 15, and they will continue to look at ways to lower the rate.

“We have to finalize soon, but please know that this is not a done deal,” Council Chairman Steve Pruden said.

Councilman Scott Wardle said Tooele City’s property tax rates have been much lower than cities of similar size for many years. 

Resident Dave Morrill said although a new police station is needed, the huge increase in tax could bury some small businesses.

Aaron Peterson of Peterson Industrial Depot said he supports “helping out the boys in blue,” but the proposed hike in property tax would be a major hit to his business.

“As a business owner, I’m receiving a rather large increase, just $6 short of $40,000 extra. Where do we go to make up $40K? ” Peterson said. “This increase takes away from us being able to support the community we live in. I understand there needs to be an increase. The amount I don’t necessarily agree with.”

John Clark said the increase will hit the elderly hard.

“We’re gonna have to sell and go somewhere else,” he said.

An unidentified speaker mentioned that residents also have been hit with tax increases from Tooele County and Tooele County School District. He said the city, county and school district should to “talk to one another” when proposing tax increases.

Dave Bickmore said the city should learn lessons from what happened to Tooele County a few years ago.

“I am a social progressive. People call me liberal, and I still see problems with this plan,” Bickmore said. “I see problems when I see hiring more people, more pay and more buildings.”

Amber Warburton spoke out against the tax increase.

“This increase is atrocious. It is asking way too much,” Warburton said. “It doesn’t make sense that you didn’t raise taxes in 36 years — nobody can live off savings for so long without getting in trouble. Taxes should have been raised incrementally. You should strongly consider not doing it all at once, but with a three-to-five year time frame.”

MaryAnn Bickmore said Tooele City makes it difficult for developers to build affordable housing to bring in more new residents. She said construction is ramping up in Lake Point and Grantsville, but not so much in Tooele because the city makes it difficult to build.

Chris Sloan, a member of the Tooele City Planning Commission, said nobody is thrilled with a tax increase, but the council and mayor should be commended for the openness of the process.

“I’ve never seen this kind of transparency in Tooele City for years,” Sloan said. “I’ve met with you (council, mayor) on several occasions and know where your hearts are.”

After the hearing, the city council adopted the 115-percent tax increase and 2018-19 fiscal year budget. The council also approved the proposed certified tax rate of 0.003934. Last year’s rate was 0.001831.

However, because the new budget includes a tax increase, the budget will remain tentative until a Truth-in-Taxation hearing on Aug. 15. If the tax increase is approved on that date, it is projected to add about $3 million more to the general fund. The total income from property taxes for the upcoming year would be about $5.5 million.

“We are at a point that we can no longer live with the tax money that is coming in,” Mayor Debbie Winn said prior to the public hearing. “We are nearly to the end of our savings.” 

Winn also spoke for 30 minutes before the hearing and used a PowerPoint presentation to show where the additional funds would be spent.

“This is not an easy job,” Winn said. “But I’ll tell you, as I’ve been out in the public in the last couple of months, there has been overwhelming support for what we are trying to do.”

She said about $800,000 would be used in the public safety department to hire new officers, increase their pay and provide other benefits.

Second, the city has been supplementing its budget from its savings accounts for several years. About $678,000 would be used to pay this annual shortfall.

Third, the city plans to build a new police station at a projected cost of $7 million. The increase in property tax would pay about $458,364 toward a bond each year to pay for the building.

Fourth, the city also owes about $11 million on a lawsuit in the Tooele Associates case settled in 2014, according to the mayor. The tax increase would generate about $403,522 annually to pay off the lawsuit. The lawsuit portion of tax increase would be eliminated once the judgment levy is paid off, the mayor said.

Fifth, about $300,000 generated from the tax increase would be used to purchase or lease equipment.

 

Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

6 thoughts on “Tooele City approves 115-percent tax hike

  1. This is absolutely unacceptable to be doing this in one year. Sounds like the actions of a bankrupt mismanaged company. Maybe just maybe they should not be paying tons of money to all the upper management in the school district. Maybe cut out some of the public work trucks that they have plenty of. And you know what else If I do not have the finances to do some things I do not do them. If you have to raise taxes by 115% just to make ends meet and place that burden on the tax payers while having a lawsuit to pay. Maybe just maybe you shouldn’t build a new 7 million dollar facility. You cut the budget where ever you can and then raise taxes a little bit. What is the city going to do for me once I cannot make my house payment due to my property tax. They have no homeless shelters and make me live in SLCs homeless shelters. This is absurd. I can promise you businesses will fail as will the town. I am voting for everyone that is currently in office out. Then I will be moving to a better run town.

  2. Tooele will see high gasoline prices, food and clothing prices, movie prices and medical prices go up to make up for the taxes they will be paying.people will be forced to go back on food stamps instead of moving up on their own like they once dreamed of. Very costly.

  3. Ok, so now, we have a 115% tax increase coming up. Let’s not forget that the city also uppped the values of homes in the last couple of years. My $120,000 home and property are now worth almost $160,000.

    They are giving us the wrong end of the stick TWICE!!!!

  4. But hey we got a real great talent show during the summer right?

    Tooele wastes money on all kinds of frivolous stuff, and them come crying when they can’t afford what is necessary.

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