Taylorsville vows to cut taxes by 50 percent, residents not impressed
It is not something Taylorsville residents want to hear, but taxes will likely go up next year whether the city becomes part of the Salt Lake Fire Service Area District or not, according to the city.
On Wednesday night, the City Council approved a resolution to lower city property taxes by 50 percent. The vote passed 3-2. The tax cut would not be finalized until the next budget is passed in June 2013.
"The council wants to send a message to residents that this is what they can expect next year," said Taylorsville City spokeswoman Aimee Newton, adding that the city is sending out another mailer to educate residents further on the fire district.
In June, the council approved the fiscal 2013 budget with a tax increase of 15 percent to fund capital projects and maintain streets. Now, the city is proposing another tax to be part of the fire district, the governing body that funds the Unified Fire Authority (UFA). Currently, the city contracts with the UFA for service.
If the city carries through the 50 percent tax cut and adds the fire district tax, the cost, based on a $197,000 home value, would add up to $345 a year, or about $29 a month, according to the city.
Overall property owners will see about a 70 percent increase in city tax since 2011.
In 2011, the city's tax, based on a $197,000 home value, was $203. That amount increased 15 percent in June to $238, as the city balanced its budget for 2013. The city most recently proposed to cut the tax by 50 percent bringing the total city tax to $119. When the new fire service district tax is added to homeowner's property tax bills, however, the total comes to $345.
Joining the fire district would continue the UFA services but also add more firefighters and a much-needed new fire station, city officials say.
If it were not part of the fire district, the city would likely have to bond for the fire station and additional firefighters, Newton said.
"Their taxes are most likely going to go up either way," she said.
But some residents don't think the city needs a new fire station, and, therefore, see no need for bonding or paying higher taxes to join the fire district. These people have banded together to collect enough signatures to put the fire district question on the ballot. They need to get signatures amounting to 10 percent of the number of city voters who took part in the last governor's election, according to state statute. They're aiming for 2,500 signatures.
Cherie Shepherd was among the 30 volunteers going door-to-door for signatures, and running into a lot of like-minded people.
"Most of them want to hug ya', because they are so happy we are doing this," Shepherd said."One guy did hug my next door neighbor; he is not a hugger. It is amazing."
She said many people also don't understand the tax increase, so it is also a time to educate them.
Shepherd knocked on one stranger's door and now he is part of the effort to sign a petition against joining the fire district.
Justin Perkins said a woman came to his door with a bunch of papers and he thought she was going to sell him something, instead she was out for signatures. He was glad to see something had been started.
"I'm not one to inspire people," Perkins said. "But as I saw someone else already doing that with something in place, I am more than willing to go help out."
Perkins is now getting signatures as well because he said, "I found it rather irksome, that the city has just tried to pull this on us." He was born in Taylorsville moved to West Valley City and moved back earlier this year after finishing a new home, a home, he will be paying a lot more tax on than he was expecting.
If Taylorsville became part of the fire district, an elected official would be appointed to the board made up of six others. The board decides the needs of the fire district and what the tax levies will be. The levies on city property taxes are then forwarded to UFA.
In a letter to residents, Taylorsville breaks down both options, and states it will cost residents $1.4 million more if the city does not join the fire district.
The letter to residents goes on to say if residents opt not to be a part of the district in 2013, Taylorsville's fire and emergency contract will go up next year and require funding "through a significant tax increase."
During the June budget meeting where the 15 percent tax increase was approved, the City Council budgeted for a half-year contract with UFA, assuming that they would join the fire district in January 2013. If Taylorsville does not join the district, the council would have to reopen the budget and find out how to pay off the remainder of the $3.8 million UFA contract.
The three in favor of the 50 percent tax decrease, which can always be amended, were Jerry Rechtenbach, Kristie Overson and Dama Barbour. The two against were Ernest Burgess and Larry Johnson.
Residents will meet at the city park next to Taylorsville Recreation Center near 2700 West and 5100 South on Sept. 29 to collect signatures for the petition.