Most Salt Lake County residents will be paying more in property taxes after County Council members voted 6-3 this month to approve a $1.9 billion budget that includes the first library tax hike in a decade.
You may have questions about what it means for you. We have answers.
How big of an increase will taxpayers experience?
Council members signed off on a roughly 25% bump in the property tax line item that pays for the county’s library system. The increase affects only that specific line item, not your overall tax bill.
How much will it cost?
Homeowners in the average $560,000 Salt Lake County house will pay about $30 more a year.
Which Salt Lake County residents will pay the tax?
Most county residents will be paying more. The tax will not apply to Salt Lake City and Murray residents because those cities operate library systems that are separate from the county’s.
Why did the county want to raise taxes?
Officials said they needed the increase to continue to offer library materials and resources to a county that has seen its population grow by 13% over the past decade.
The tax hike will help maintain existing service levels and pay for building upkeep and system upgrades.
Because of Utah’s truth-in-taxation law, revenues have not spiked with the appreciation of home values since the last time property taxes were raised for county libraries. Existing revenues are insufficient to meet demands on the library system.
Why won’t the county supplement the library budget with general fund money?
State law bars the county from doing this. Only money from the library system line item on your property tax bill can pay for library-related expenses.
Why doesn’t the county library system just spend less money?
Officials say the library system already has absorbed more than 30% in cost increases caused by inflation, a move that has eaten away at budget allocations for building and system maintenance.
If building maintenance continues to be delayed, the county has argued, the library system will face higher costs in the future.
Will the extra money pay for any new library branches?
Not immediately. The tax increase will help with upkeep on the 18 existing buildings. The newest location, the Granite Branch in South Salt Lake, opened in July. As branches reach the end of their life and no longer can be efficiently maintained, the county will look at replacing them.