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Weber County locales’ modest tax hikes aim to keep pace with inflation, avoid large increases

By Tim Vandenack - | Aug 10, 2023

Banjamin Zack, Standard-Examiner file photo

South Ogden City Hall is pictured in 2019.

With relatively modest property tax hike plans in Harrisville, South Ogden, North Ogden and the North View Fire District, officials aren’t trying to be greedy or spendthrift.

Rather, they’re aiming, variously, to keep up with inflation and gradually boost funding to avoid the need for massive increases that could be required by waiting too long to act.

“We’ve done it year after year for the same reason and I think people get it,” said South Ogden Mayor Russell Porter.

South Ogden officials are proposing a 4.5% increase in property taxes, which would augment collections to $4.39 million, up from $4.2 million without a hike. If the South Ogden City Council ultimately approves the hike — which generated opposition from two speakers at an Aug. 1 hearing — it would be the sixth tax increase since 2017.

A 166% property tax hike last year in Harrisville, the first there since 2013, generated a lot of attention and clamoring in the city. Mayor Michelle Tait said the miniscule-by-comparison 0.67% hike for 2023 — approved Tuesday by the Harrisville City Council — is meant to balance the need for funding and taxpayers’ opposition to massive increases, even if they come only every few years.

After last year’s sizable hike, which boosted anticipated property tax collections from $354,030 to $941,570, residents asked leaders to take a different approach to taxing, implementing smaller increases from year to year as a guard against massive jumps. “Over and over, people said, ‘Please don’t do that to us,'” said Mayor Michelle Tait. “‘Please just give us a little bit at a time.'”

As North Ogden City Attorney Jon Call sees it, the proposed 3% hike in that city for 2023 hardly amounts to an increase given rising costs the city faces due to inflationary pressures.

The proposed increase stems from “inflationary expenses that the city is not immune from,” he said. “The reality of Utah tax law is that unless a city does a truth-in-taxation hearing each year, we will always be losing money to inflationary factors.”

Truth-in-taxation hearings are required to let the public sound off when cities and other taxing entities propose tax rate increases above what the state allows each year — the certified rate — factoring new growth. “Most people don’t understand the certified tax rate is designed so that as your home value goes up, the dollars of taxes collected stays the same. The only way the city can capture the increased values in homes is to hold a truth-in-taxation hearing,” Call said.


Here are more particulars of the proposed increases in Harrisville, South Ogden, North Ogden and the North View Fire District, the fire department that serves North Ogden, Harrisville and Pleasant View.

Harrisville: The 2023 increase bolsters expected property tax revenues from $955,324 to $961,736, just $6,412. It would increase the city tax bill on a home worth $417,000, the average, from $341.73 to $344.03.

The increase “just keeps our budget afloat, making sure we don’t go into a deficit,” Tait said.

South Ogden: The 2023 increase, if approved, would boost taxes on a home worth $450,000, the average, from $593.51 to $620.24.

Like Call, Porter said the increase aids South Ogden in keeping pace with inflation. The $190,000 or so in new tax funds aren’t earmarked for anything in particular, but he noted pressure on city finances caused by moves to bolster pay of police officers.

Here’s how tax hikes shaped in years past in South Ogden, according to Utah State Tax Commission data: 9% in 2022, 9.96% in 2021, 7.27% in 2020, 10.01% in 2018 and 21.14% in 2017. South Ogden officials reduced taxes by 0.18% in 2019.

North Ogden: The 2023 increase, focus of a public hearing next Tuesday, would bolster property tax revenues from $2.43 million to $2.5 million, up about $70,000. It would increase the city tax bill on a home worth $519,000, the average, from $331.98 to $341.97.

As property tax funding in North Ogden is earmarked for public safety, including policing, Mayor Neal Berube said the extra funds would help in that area. Like Porter, he noted pressures to boost pay of police officers to stay competitive with other agencies.

“Everybody wants them, so salaries are very competitive,” Berube said.

North Ogden also increased taxes in 2022, 2021 and 2020, though the 202o hike stemmed from a change in how transportation fees were assessed and didn’t result in new revenue.

North View Fire District: The proposed increase reflects the strategy of tax hikes implemented in years past of keeping pace with inflation and bolstering firefighters’ wages to aid in recruitment and retention, said Chief David Wade. A hearing on the plans is set for Aug. 23.

North View is proposing a 2.2% hike that would boost property tax funding to $4.15 million, up from $4.06 million. That would boost the bill on a home worth $525,000 from $296.55 to $302.90.

Here’s how tax hikes shaped in years past in the fire district, according to Utah State Tax Commission data: 22.69% in 2022, 15.48% in 2021, 7.91% in 2020 and 6.69% in 2019.

Weber School District officials approved a 13.68% tax hike on Aug. 3 and Ogden School District officials hold a hearing on Aug. 18 on a proposed 5.32% tax hike.


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