Salt Lake County residents will pay more taxes this fall; Sandy mayor still opposed but says he won’t veto

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Potholes on 1100 East between Hollywood Avenue and 2100 South in Salt Lake City, as seen Monday, March 28, 2016.

Sandy City Mayor Kurt Bradburn remains opposed to a $58 million countywide sales tax hike for roads and transit but won’t veto the City Council’s approval, his deputy said Wednesday.

After a close 4-3 council vote Tuesday night, Bradburn huddled with legal advisers and concluded he probably doesn’t have veto power on the resolution, said Evelyn Everton, deputy mayor.

“After doing some due diligence with our attorneys, we’re not convinced that a veto on a resolution would be upheld in court and so the resolution would stand as is,” Everton told The Tribune on Wednesday.

“The [Utah] code basically says a mayor can veto an ordinance, a tax levy or an appropriation. The resolution doesn’t really fall under this,” she said.

Bradburn, elected last year, has opposed the sales tax hike because Sandy voters rejected the proposal in 2015 by a 57-43 percent margin. (Everton at the time of the vote was state director of Americans for Prosperity, which led the campaign against the ballot measure.)

The approval of the city councils of Sandy and Draper Tuesday triggers imposition of the 0.25 percent tax increase (2.5 cents per $10 purchase) because of the way Salt Lake County officials structured the plan.

Instead of the County Council approving the tax hike — which the state Legislature authorized earlier this year — the council decided that it would impose the tax if cities representing 67 percent of the county’s 1.1 million population endorsed the proposal.

Council members for Salt Lake City, the largest, with a population of about 200,000, approved the resolution last week. Previously, councils of Millcreek, Midvale, South Salt Lake, Murray, South Jordan and Holladay had given their endorsements, along with the town of Alta and several townships.

Salt Lake County voters narrowly rejected the tax hike in 2015, mostly due to public distrust of the Utah Transit Authority, which had been mired in a number of scandals over the years over high executive pay, sweetheart deals with developers and closed-door decision-making.

UTA will get 40 percent of the new revenue beginning July 1, 2019. Cities will get 40 percent and the county will receive the remaining 20 percent.

However, under the resolution, the new tax will start to be collected Oct. 1 and all of that revenue will go to the county to decide how best to spend and divvy up.

County Council Chairwoman Aimee Winder Newton said those decisions haven’t yet been made but she believes some will going down to paying down countywide bond debt for transportation and some will go to cities based strictly on need.

She rejects any notion that cities that approved the tax increase should be rewarded and those that defeated the resolution punished.

“I don’t believe anybody is looking to pick on those who didn’t pass the resolution or punish those who didn’t. i don’t believe that our council has that mindset,” Newton said.

Allegations aired in some of the city council debates suggested there would be a rewards-or-punishment consequence for cities, depending on their vote on the tax resolution.