OGDEN — Property taxes will be bumping up for those in unincorporated Weber County.
As expected, Weber County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a bump in taxes in the county’s municipal services fund, applicable to those who live outside the county’s 15 cities and towns. The increase will boost collections in the fund by around $360,000, increasing the typical homeowners’ property tax bill by perhaps $20 to $30. It’s meant to generate sufficient revenue to cover the cost of county services in the area, as required by state law.
Three spoke against the increase in the public hearing preceding action by commissioners, who also approved the county’s 2020 budget. Eric South, one of the foes, cited the controversial property tax increase approved by commissioners in 2016 — about 20%, much larger than the one approved Tuesday — and hikes approved last year and Nov. 19 for the Weber Area 911 and Emergency Services District.
“Not in favor of a tax increase,” South said. “County needs to live within its means ... I’m not opposed to people paying their fair share. But by the same token, I live out in unincorporated Weber County. I don’t see a whole lot of county services out there.”
Commissioners publicly unveiled the proposed municipal services fund tax hike in late October and subsequently held a pair of public meetings on the plans ahead of Tuesday’s action. As is, general fund revenue, coming from all county property owners, including those in cities, has helped subsidize the cost of county services in unincorporated areas. State law, though, requires that services in unincorporated areas be funded by taxes coming from just unincorporated areas, spurring the tax hike.
All along, county officials have emphasized that taxes collected in the general fund will be going down by around $500,000 for 2020, resulting in a slight potential property tax dip for property owners living in the county’s 15 cities and towns. In fact, about 94% of county residents live in incorporated areas, with just 6% living in unincorporated areas, meaning the vast majority of property tax owners are in line for a dip in their county property tax bills, notwithstanding the municipal services fund hike.
The municipal services fund tax hike will double the property tax bill on that particular line item for impacted property owners. For the owner of a home valued at $280,000, taxes will go from an estimated $20 to $41 while the increase for the owner of a $403,000 home will see the line item go from $29 to $59, according to county figures.
Offsetting that, at least in part, will be the reduction in the tax on the general fund line item, an estimated $4.61 for the owner of a $280,000 home.
Commissioner Scott Jenkins said an even bigger hike in the municipal services fee tax rate would be required to remedy an expected shortfall in the line item over the long haul. Commissioners, though, couldn’t stomach a bigger hike than the one proposed, he said. Moreover, officials cited ongoing talk among some in western Weber County of incorporating the area, saying they’d like to see where that initiative goes before boosting taxes even more.
The 2020 county budget, made up of several funds and other varied elements, calls for around $213.5 million in overall spending, up from $209.7 million for 2019, according to a preliminary version of the spending plan. Estimated spending in governmental funds, representing key operations like public safety, road and park maintenance, libraries and more, totals around $170.1 million, up from $167.5 million for 2019.
County employees will get a 45-cent per hour pay hike to offset increases in insurance premiums. Beyond that, employees will also be eligible for performance-based pay hikes of up to 3%.