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West Jordan Journal

Council and community discuss pros and cons of tax rate increase

Sep 08, 2022 02:15PM ● By Erin Dixon

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

A truth in taxation meeting is required if a city, or any tax-collecting organization, wants to change the rate at which their residents are taxed.

On Aug. 9, West Jordan City Council hosted theirs and listened to opinions from the public. The following day, the council confirmed a 5.6% property tax change.

Even though it may mean residents pay more on their tax bill, “This is the lowest property tax rate we’ve had in a long time,” Danyce Steck, West Jordan finance director, said. 

Since 2012, the property tax rate has been falling. Property values drive the rate changes over the years, which means owners will sometimes pay more, sometimes less.

Resident James Romero voiced concerns about this year's rate increase during the truth in taxation meeting.

“Your seniors are all hurting,” Romero said. “Their property taxes keep going up $200 to $300 a year. I’ve been preaching to my representatives that when a couple retires…they should freeze the property tax on their primary residence at the time of retirement. Everything is going out of control.”

Resident Troy Porter agreed and urged the council to be proactive with other leaders.

“What I'm hoping is that all of you people can have an influence on other people, the state, the school districts,” Porter said.

Councilmember Pamela Bloom agreed that tax increases can be unfair to people with fixed-incomes.

“One of the biggest things for me was our elderly and our seniors,” Bloom said. “At the end of the day we need our legislators to get involved. It is in their hands to help with that[LL1] . I encourage everybody to talk to your legislators to help those who struggle when these prices go up.”

Councilmember David Pack assured residents that even though the staff of the city, including police and fire, received raises, “The city council didn’t receive a raise. The mayor didn’t receive a raise; not even a cost-of-living adjustment.”

In the spring, the mayor presented the council with a budget that included a 10% property tax rate increase. Most of that increase was meant for police wages.

In hopes of bringing down that 10% but keeping the police raises, “The council spent many hours with Ms. Steck looking for places we could cut the mayor's budget and save taxpayer dollars,” Council Chair Kayleen Whitelock said. 

Councilmember Chris McConnehey expressed an opposing opinion.

“Personally, I think it should be higher,” McConnehey said. “I cannot strongly enough express how much I do not like the utility fee transfer. I’d rather see a higher property tax rate and decrease utility fees. I realize I am only one of seven.”

Of a property owner's entire tax bill, the city receives only a small portion. School districts, libraries, the County, and a few others, also receive money from your property tax.

“The city receives 14 cents for every one dollar of your property tax bill,” Steck said.

Increased retail and home improvement has brought in more sales tax to the city, but anything greater than a 5% growth is considered an anomaly.

“If the city counts one-time revenues, large property taxes become necessary in the future,” Steck said.

The extra money from sales tax goes to capital projects, or other one-time expenses.