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County hiking taxes moderately now, to avoid larger increase

 

By James Tilson

Associate editor

11-14-2019

 

MANTI—Sanpete County is proposing a small property tax increase, in order to avoid having a huge tax increase like the one in 2016.

Sanpete County published a notice on Nov. 7 that it is proposing to “increase its property tax budgeted revenue by 3.32 percent above last year’s property tax budgeted revenue excluding eligible new growth.”

According to Chief Commissioner Scott Bartholomew, the county wants to avoid the painful increase in 2016 that was caused by not raising taxes for so long.

“We don’t’ want to get in a situation like last time where we had to raise so much,” said Bartholomew. “We had a lot of people tell us they would rather have small increases more often.”

In the notice, Sanpete County states the tax on a $170,000 residence would increase from $295.27 to $305.07, a difference of $9.80. On a $170,000 business property, the tax would raise from $546.86 to $554.68, an increase of $7.82. Bartholomew said the county intends to raise $150,000 revenue with the new tax.

In a letter to the Messenger, Ephraim resident Ted Meikle asked two questions: “1. What happened to all the extra taxes raised in 2017, 2018 and 2019? And 2. Does Sanpete need another 3 percent?”

Meikle goes on to report on his findings based on reports available from the Utah State Auditor’s Office (https://reporting.auditor.utah.gov/searchreport) that “Sanpete received about $3,097,000 in extra real property taxes.”

As far as reserves, Meikle reports “As of Dec. 2018, ‘Unrestricted Cash and Investments’ increased $3,679,523, and ‘Total Government Funds’ increased $4,171,282.’”

Based on his findings, Meikle says it appears the reserves have been well replenished. “Congratulations on a job well done.”

But then he goes back to his second question. “So the question is, if Sanpete County has done so well at replenishing its reserves, why does it need another 3 percent tax increase now?”

Bartholomew answered by saying, “Our goal is to keep our revenues neutral to our needs going forward, and not to dig into the reserves in the future.” He also said the county plans to have small tax increases every two to three years to keep up with inflation without putting a huge burden on Sanpete taxpayers.

The notice from Sanpete County also states there will be a public hearing on the proposed tax increase on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Sanpete County Commission Room in the county courthouse on 160 N. Main in Manti.