South Ogden property tax (copy)

The South Ogden City Council approved the city's spending plan for 2020 on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, eliminating a proposed property tax increase that had generated concern among some. Mayor Russell Porter discusses the budget at an Aug. 6, 2019, hearing while City Councilman Brent Strate, on the right, listens.

SOUTH OGDEN — Taxes don’t always go up.

South Ogden officials, in fact, have opted not to implement a proposed property tax hike for 2020. Instead, the rate will actually go down, slightly.

The South Ogden City Council met Tuesday to formally act on the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget. The original spending plan proposal had called for a property tax hike of $220,000 or so, boosting taxes on an average-valued home, $265,000, by $28.43. That plan had generated a criticism at an Aug. 7 hearing from a handful of South Ogden residents, leery of paying more taxes.

In the end, though, the council voted 5-0 for a trimmed-down budget proposal, reducing the proposed tax rate from 0.0029 to 0.0027 and foregoing the extra $220,000 or so contemplated in the original proposal. Property taxes are determined by multiplying the tax rate and the taxable value of a piece of property, and Tuesday’s action means property tax collections should hold close to the 2019 level, not including taxation on growth.

City Councilman Brent Strate, speaking Thursday, noted that the city is in pretty healthy financial shape. Moreover, the council approved a property tax increase last year. As such, his thinking in weighing the budget turned to South Ogden taxpayers.

“You know what? This year we need to do something for the residents,” he said. “We’re in a pretty positive revenue-growth situation. It’s time to back off a little bit.”

The original budget proposal called for $15.42 million in spending with $3.29 million of that coming from property taxes. With Tuesday’s reduction, those figures would go down to around $15.2 million and $3.07 million, respectively. The tax rate, 0.0027, is slightly lower than the certified rate set by the Weber County Clerk-Auditor’s Office, 0.002705, and overall anticipated spending — the $15.2 million figure — actually reflects a dip from the 2019 number, $15.23 million.

City Manager Matt Dixon said the city will “adjust accordingly,” drawing from reserves, if needed, to offset the $220,000 lopped from the budget plan.

“Some things may get bumped as a result of this. Is it the end of the world? Is the city going to stop running? Absolutely not,” he said. Still, the city’s needs don’t go away and any unaddressed issue “will just rear its head in a future year.”

The originally proposed property tax hike aimed to keep pace with inflation and the city’s general needs. It wasn’t tied to any particular project or initiative.

Also Tuesday, the South Weber City Council approved a spending plan for 2020 that calls for an increase of nearly 100% in local property taxes. The city hadn’t raised taxes since its incorporation in 1971.

The Washington Terrace City Council approved a 2020 spending plan that calls for a 42.8% increase in property taxes to bolster funding for the city’s fire department.

Both tax hike proposals in South Weber and Washington Terrace were the focus of earlier public hearings, as in South Ogden.

Contact reporter Tim Vandenack at tvandenack@standard.net, follow him on Twitter at @timvandenack or like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/timvandenackreporter.

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