Tax hike opponents in Utah County launch repeal referendum

Opponents of a plan to raise Utah County's property taxes for the first time in more than two decades are filing a referendum to challenge it.

Julie Blaney of Payson said she completed the paperwork Monday on a proposal to freeze the budget at 2018 levels, the Daily Herald in Provo reported.

“And all we’re asking is that it go to the voters to decide. Let the voters decide if they want to pay more property tax," she said.

The county now has 20 days to vet the referendum, and if it's approved her group would start gathering signatures to try and get on the ballot. The group need to collect more than 21,000 signatures of Utah County residents in 45 days, Blaney said.

The Utah County Commission last week approved the increase, saying it was necessary to balance the budget and keep the county from cutting into its financial reserves. Commissioners Nathan Ivie and Tanner Ainge voted for the hike while Commissioner Bill Lee opposed it.

The hike, which is the first in 23 years, is expected to bring in another $19.3 million to fund services county services like the offices that run local elections and prosecute crimes.

It will cost the average homeowner about $83 more a year, in addition to the $123 in property taxes they already pay annually to the county. Utah county's property tax rate is among the lowest in the state and would likely remain so, officials have said.

The commission is expected to reconsider the tax hike in June, after members decide whether to sell a $10 million equestrian park and how that might affect revenues.