Washington Terrace FD

Fire engines in the Washington Terrace Fire Department engine bay on April 26, 2019. City officials propose a property tax hike for 2020 to increase department funding and a hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019.

SOUTH OGDEN — South Ogden and Washington Terrace residents have the chance Tuesday to formally sound off on proposed tax increases in the cities for 2020.

Leaders in both locales are proposing property tax hikes for the new fiscal year, but, per state law, they must first hold truth-in-taxation hearings so the public may speak out.

South Ogden will hold its hearing during its City Council meeting Tuesday, which starts at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 3950 Adams Ave. Officials will hold a second public hearing on a separate proposal to issue up to $12.31 million in bonds, about half of it to refinance existing bonds at a lower interest rate and the rest to develop Burch Creek Park.

Washington Terrace, seeking new funds to bolster its fire department, holds its truth-in-taxation hearing during its City Council meeting at City Hall at 5249 S. 400 East. That meeting is also scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Neither city council is to act on the tax hike plans on Tuesday. That comes later, at the cities’ next respective city council meetings, scheduled for Aug. 20, when they consider formal adoption of their budgets for 2020. South Ogden officials, though, are scheduled to act Tuesday on a resolution that calls for moving forward with the proposed bond issue.

KEEPING UP WITH INFLATION

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.

People, in general, oppose property tax hikes, said Mayor Russell Porter. But he doesn’t think the new South Ogden proposal is excessive. “I don’t think that’s out of line. I think that’s doable,” Porter said.

In all, the tax hike would generate an extra $220,000, 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.

The tax hike South Ogden leaders approved last year for 2019 generated around $275,000 in new funds.

As for the proposed bond, Porter noted that it would help the city save money, at least on the portion that reflects debt refinancing. Up to $6.7 million would be used to develop the 14-acre Burch Creek Park, perhaps less, while the rest would go toward refinancing.

What’s more, bonding for park development now would be cheaper than building it in phases over time, he argued. Inflation would push construction costs up over the years, he said, while working in phases could also require duplicative efforts in certain park sections, also pushing costs up.

The city could save and wait to finish the park when it has the needed funding. “But then nothing happens,” at least not until the funding is on hand, Porter said.

BOLSTERING FIRE PROTECTION

Washington Terrace has already held two informational meetings on the proposed tax increase, each drawing only around eight attendees each, said Mayor Mark Allen.

“I think people, when they see our presentation, they realize there’s a need,” he said. “We’re doing it for a reason. We’re doing it for public safety, fire and EMS services.”

The tax hike would generate an extra $260,000 or so for the Washington Terrace Fire Department, boosting its funding for 2020 to around $585,000. Per the change, the city tax on a $236,000 home in the city, the average, would increase from $179.90 to $256.87, up 42.8%.

The extra funds would allow the city to increase the stipend firefighters get, aiding in recruitment and retention. The money would also allow the city to increase the number of firefighters on duty from two per day to three.

The city of Layton is proposing a property tax increase to build a new fire department and that will be the focus of a truth-in-taxation hearing on Thursday. The North View Fire District, which serves North Ogden, Pleasant View and Harrisville, is also proposing a property tax increase for 2020 and a truth-in-taxation hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20.

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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