South Ogden property tax

South Ogden Mayor Russell Porter discusses a proposed property tax increase in the city for 2020 at a public hearing on the issue on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. City Councilman Brent Strate, on the right, listens.

SOUTH OGDEN — Ludy Danielson worries South Ogden's proposed property tax hike could be just enough to wreak havoc on her finances.

"It may cause me to sell my home," said the South Ogden woman.

The assessed valuation on her home for 2020 spiked, and the city's proposed property tax hike alone for the new fiscal year, not factoring increases by other taxing entities, will cost her an extra $100. "That's a hardship. I don't have a big fancy house," she said.

The South Ogden City Council on Tuesday held a public hearing on the proposed property tax hike, as required by state law, and Danielson and a handful of others spoke out, most expressing opposition or raising concerns.

"Let's stop it for a year," said Jim Daily, proposing that the city keep property tax collections flat next year. "Everything you people do is to raise."

In the end, the city took no action. Formal consideration of the 2020 budget, including the tax hike, is set for Aug. 20. But most of those who spoke out, at least, expressed reservations, leery of new taxes.

"I just don't think we should be getting taxed more if it's not absolutely necessary," said Levi Kushlan, another South Ogden resident. Better to leave the money to property owners than the city, let them use the money.

In a separate matter Tuesday, the South Ogden City Council voted 4-1 to move forward with a bond of up to around $12 million to refinance existing debt and to develop Burch Creek Park. Officials also held a public hearing on that matter, generating a mix of support and questions.

South Ogden proposes the property tax hike to keep pace with inflation and the growing costs of running the city, not any single initiative in particular. It would be the second tax hike in the city since last year.

Mayor Russell Porter defended the proposal, saying smaller tax hikes from year to year forestall the pain that comes from larger, less frequent increases, like an earlier 2017 bump. In all, the tax hike for 2020 would generate an extra $220,000 or so for South Ogden, pushing total property tax collections to $3.23 million, up from $3.01 million for 2019. The city property taxes on a $265,000 home, the average in South Ogden, would rise from $394.25 to $422.68 per the change, up 7.2%, according to the Weber County Clerk-Auditor’s Office.

Council members said little on the property tax proposal, but the bond issue generated discussion and debate. About half of the bond amount, $6 million, would be used to refinance other existing city bonds at a lower interest rate, saving the city up to $450,000 to $500,000 in all. Up to $6 million more would be used to develop Burch Creek Park and, potentially, to pay for improvements to other city parks.

Porter said only $3 million to $4 million in bond funds may ultimately be needed for the Burch Creek Park project, also in line to get around $2 million in funding from grants and other sources. That prompted talk and questions by Councilwoman Sallee Orr and Councilman Adam Hensley of reducing the total for the parks plans from $6 million.

Councilman Mike Howard argued in favor of keeping the maximum at $6 million, then reducing the funding actually going to parks later if that much isn't needed. "There's nothing that says we have to spend that. That money can go back," he said.

Funding for the bonds would be backed by sales tax revenue entering city coffers, not property taxes, thus the financing would have no impact on property tax rates, according to Russell. The bond issue will likely come back to the council for fine-tuning after more park details emerge.

Hensley, Orr, Howard and Councilman Brent Strate voted in favor of moving ahead with the bond. Councilwoman Susan Stewart voted against the plan.

The Washington Terrace City Council also held a hearing Tuesday on a proposed property tax hike for 2020 there.

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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