Council OKs 166 percent tax hike as residents pack meeting

Aug 17 2013 - 11:50pm

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FARR WEST -- The city council has approved a 166 percent property tax increase, bowing to growing law enforcement costs, and only after hearing from a packed house of residents speaking out about Farr West taxes.

For the owner of a home valued at $223,000, the increase amounts to $86.84.

"I don't believe Farr West city ever had a property tax increase," at least in the past 16 years, said City Treasurer John Cardon.

Weber County cities with their own police forces, such as Ogden, North Ogden, Roy, Riverdale and Harrisville, until about two years ago helped subsidize the cost of the Weber County Sheriff's

Office providing law enforcement in smaller communities.

Now, Farr West and other towns using the sheriff's services have to shoulder the full cost. This has led most communities to scramble to pay the higher bills.

The impact on Farr West: Its contract with the sheriff's office calls for payment of $285,000 in the 2012-13 budget year, rising to $334,000 in 2013-14 and $440,000 the following year.

Cardon said the $400,000 cost of a new pedestrian bridge over 2700 North benefiting Wahlquist Junior High School students also played a role in the talk leading to the tax increase.

Resident Denise Taylor, at the tax hearing Thursday night, asked if the city had looked into the possibility of its own police department, and the cost.

Mayor Lee Dickemore said the city had done that. He said Harrisville pays approximately $900,000 for its police force. It's more cost effective for Farr West to use the county service, he said.

"When we communicated with other cities, all of us were upset," said Councilman Tim Shupe. "It hit us blindside, but when you understand other cities are paying double what we are for law enforcement ..."

Shupe said he believes the sheriff's department has trimmed its budget and many cities have done quite a few things to reduce their budgets, but the tax increase is just necessary.

Resident Nancy Merrill said she wanted to know who in the city was in charge of bringing in more business, because that is what is needed in the city to form a larger tax base.

Resident David Jay said he thought the 166 tax increase was not justified for the costs cited by officials. Why the big tax jump, he asked.

Some residents, including Stephanie Jay, pointed out many in the city are retired and on fixed incomes and the tax increase will hit hard. She encouraged the city to look into bringing in more and larger businesses.

Councilman Paul Dinsdale said the city is working with Pleasant View at this time on a plan to bring in some big businesses in on 2700 North.

Mike Beal, who identified himself as veteran, said he has been all over the world, has seen people with very little, without shoes, even. He said he felt thrilled to pay the extra $10 he would have to on his next tax bill to enjoy living in Farr West, though he said his home did not compare with the average value of homes in Farr West.

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