Two tax increases proposed in Davis County

Wednesday , September 28, 2016 - 4:30 PM

DOUG GIBSON, Standard-Examiner Staff

FARMINGTON — Davis County officials are proposing two property tax increases for 2017.

Both the county and its library system have planned tax increases. For the county, there will be a 23.37 percent increase of the county property tax increment, from about $68 million annually to $75 million. 

The county tax increase will go toward “core governmental services,” which includes property rights, paramedic services, senior services, law enforcement, flood prevention, law enforcement and more, said John Petroff Jr., commission chairman.

The library tax hike will be a 20.18 percent increase of the library’s property tax increment. That would up the library’s share of property taxes from about $7 million annually to $8.25 million. 

“The Davis County tax increase will not exceed $7.2 million. The library tax increase will not exceed $1.25 million,” said Curtis Koch, Davis County clerk/auditor.

Koch said that the county tax increase would add $56.91 in annual property tax for a Davis County home worth $260,000. The library tax increase would add $9.87 in annual property tax for the same valued home.

The last county property tax increase was in 2007. The last library property tax increase was in 2000, Koch said.

OPEN HOUSES, HEARINGS SCHEDULED

“We want to be very transparent,” Commissioner P. Bret Millburn said. The process to effect a tax increase began earlier this week, when both were announced at the county commission meeting on Tuesday.

From this point, commissioners will be meeting with departments and going over budgets prior to offering a tentative budget that factors in the tax hikes. Koch said that may be  ready by early November.

There will be three public open houses on the tax increases. They are:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 29, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Davis County Administration Building, 61 South Main St., Farmington.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 30, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Clearfield library, 562 S. 1000.
  • Thursday, Dec. 1, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Bountiful City Hall, 790 S. 100 East.

Public hearings for both tax increases will be held Dec. 6 at the Davis Conference Center, 1651 N. 700 West, Layton. The library tax hike hearing starts at 6 p.m. and the county property tax hike hearing at 7 p.m.

“On Dec. 13, we’ll look to approve the budget with any changes or modifications,” Koch said.

Koch and the commissioners urged residents to ask them questions about the proposed increases. 

“People need to come to the open houses,” Commissioner Jim Smith said. 

“We’re doing the open houses. They are not required,” Petroff said. They are scheduled to have people learn about the proposals and to get feedback, he added.

“(People) can talk with the commissioners, myself and other members of the county (government),” Koch said.

The phone number for the Davis County Commission is 801-451-3200.

INFLATION, DEPRECIATION CITED

The tax increases are needed, commissioners said, because inflation has eaten into the value of property tax revenues. They also cited the need to deal with regular depreciation of and replacements of county property.

Koch said the tax base revenue has declined roughly $4.5 million due to inflation since 2007. For example, $1,000 in 2007 is worth $862 in 2016,” he added.

Commissioners said that Davis County has the lowest expenditures and revenue per capita of Utah’s 29 counties. Nevertheless, revenues are less than expenditures. Prudent management has occurred, “but the inflation has killed us,” Millburn said.

Slightly more than a third of the $7.2 million county tax increase will go to stabilize the county’s fund balance, which maintains reserves as a fiscal precaution. “By ordinance we can’t slip below 15 percent,” Koch said. The county’s goal is to keep the reserve fund at 17 percent of revenues, he added.

Commissioners, in mostly general terms, presented some spending options. They included flood control, information technology, facility maintenance, salary issues, and capital projects.

“Not a penny of this tax increase is going to elected officials,” Smith said.

The library tax increase will be mostly for capitol projects, including a rebuilding of the South Branch library, expanding the Syracuse library, and remodeling the North Branch. A smaller percentage will be allocated for operational expenses.

Contact reporter Doug Gibson at dgibson@standard.net or follow him on Twitter at @politicalsurf 

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