LAYTON — The first of what figures to be many Davis County cities is proposing a property tax increase to replace a longtime levy being dropped by the county.
During a June 3 City Council meeting, Layton Finance Director Tracy Probert said the city’s fiscal year 2021-2022 budget includes a tax increase — a measure precipitated by Davis County’s upcoming discontinuation of paramedic services.
Earlier this year, the county announced it would stop providing paramedic services to a handful of cities in the county, dropping the tax levy that paid for the operation. Currently, the countywide levy for paramedic services, overseen by Davis County commissioners, generates around $3 million a year. The Layton Fire Department has long provided paramedic services for the city but typically received about $750,000 every year from the tax pot to cover the associated costs.
According to Layton City Council documents, the proposed tax increase is approximately 7% above the Certified Tax Rate, which is set by the Davis County clerk/auditor and the Utah State Tax Commission. Those two entities determine cities’ tax rates based on the previous year’s assessed property valuations. In Utah, rates rise and fall based on each year’s valuations to guarantee a city receives the same amount of property tax revenue as it did the prior year, discounting new development.
So when existing property valuations increase, a city’s property tax rates go down. According to the Utah Taxpayers Association, the reduction prevents local governments from getting an influx of money just because property values have gone up. Inflation isn’t considered when rates are calculated, so new growth and certified tax increases are the only way for a city to receive additional property tax money.
Probert said the proposed Layton increase is simply meant to replace the county levy and provide the city with the money it will soon be missing out on. He said residents’ bottom line tax bills shouldn’t change much.
“We’re required to treat it as a tax increase because we will pick that levy up,” he said. “The property owners will see a net zero effect in Layton City.”
Probert said a public hearing on the item is scheduled for Aug. 5. Depending on how the council wants to approach it, the increase could be finalized at the Aug. 5 meeting, or the matter could be continued to Aug. 19. He said a flyer explaining the increase will be mailed to Layton residents with their July utility bill. Probert said that at last check, 13 different municipalities in Davis County are proposing similar tax increases this year, most of which are related to the paramedic issue.
In 2019, Layton City approved its first property tax increase in 32 years, when the council approved an increase to pay for the construction of a new fire station on the far east side of the city near U.S. 89, at the intersection of Valley View Drive and Eastside Drive. The city actually adopted property tax decreases in each of the three years preceding 2019.