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Weber County hearing on property tax hike plan set for Tuesday

By Tim Vandenack - | Nov 20, 2021
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The Southwest Branch library in Roy, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
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The Southwest Branch library in Roy, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.
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The Southwest Branch library in Roy, photographed Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

OGDEN — A proposed hike in property taxes in Weber County comes up for public review next week.

The boost sought by county officials isn’t as big or controversial as the 21%, $6.85 million increase approved in 2016. The current proposal in the tentative 2022 budget calls for a 4.5% increase in taxes, which would generate an extra $2.1 million for library maintenance and flood control efforts.

Either way, it’s an increase and, as such, the Weber County Commission has set a public hearing to give the public a chance to speak out. It’s set for next Tuesday at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd.

The Weber County budget for next year calls for $249.22 million in spending, with only a portion of that coming from property taxes. Property tax collections for 2021 amount to $51.2 million, so the proposed increase would boost the total to around $53.3 million, not including permitted increases due to new growth.

For the owner of a home valued at $366,000 — the average in the county — county property taxes would go from $435.21 a year to $454.79, up $19.58, or 4.5%.

The increase for the Weber County Library System, around $1.1 million, would be used to cover ongoing maintenance and staffing. The five-library system received a massive upgrade thanks to a $45 million bond initiative approved by voters in 2013, but that measure didn’t including funding for continued maintenance and staffing needs of the improved facilities.

The county has had to “pour all of its new library tax revenue into salaries and wages to attract and retain qualified library staff,” making it tough to maintain the libraries themselves, according to a note on the proposed increase included with the budget plan posted online.

Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the library system, also noted increasing use of the facilities and the need to keep pace with technological advances. “We’ve got ever-increasing costs with our technological infrastructure,” she said.

Earlier this year, county officials mulled the possibility of a tax increase to build a new library to serve the growing area in northwestern Weber County, which would’ve been the system’s sixth. Those plans were put on hold, though. The increase now under consideration stems more from needs of the existing five facilities going into the future, said Weber County Commissioner Gage Froerer.

Around $1 million of the proposed tax hike would be used for flood control efforts around the county. An estimated $30 million in improvements are needed “to ensure the safety and effectiveness of our flood control infrastructure,” reads the online county note on the proposed increases.

One possible improvement, according to Froerer, would be upgrades to a water holding pond in the Pleasant View area to augment its capacity. Another fix would be improvements to drainage infrastructure in western Weber County.

Flooding in 2011 and 2012 resulted in a massive initiative to improve the flood-control infrastructure in western Weber County. The extra funding, the online note said, is a bid to “be proactive in addressing the county’s flood control needs now.”

Though some grumble at the notion of property tax hikes, Froerer said the limited increase proposed for 2022 aims to head off the possibility of a larger increase down the road if officials wait.

Scott Parke, the county comptroller, said county commissioners aren’t expected to take action after Tuesday’s hearing. Tentative plans call for approval of the 2022 spending plan at the Dec. 14 county commission meeting.

The Weber Fire District, meantime, is also proposing a property tax hike for 2022. The increase, some $850,000, would be used to help add personnel and bolster pay firefighters get.

A public hearing on the proposal was held Nov. 9, when three spoke in favor of the plan and three expressed opposition. Paul Sullivan, chief of the fire district, said the district’s Board of Trustees is scheduled to formally approve a spending plan for next year at the body’s Dec. 14 meeting.

The fire district increase, if approved, would boost taxes on a home valued at $483,000, the average in the district, from $324.36 to $356.67, an increase of $32.31, or 10%. The district serves unincorporated Weber County and Farr West, Hooper, Huntsville, Marriott-Slaterville, West Haven and Uintah.

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