Utah County Commission moves toward repeal of 2019 tax hike

The county’s lawmakers cited unexpected growth in sales and property tax revenue.

(Rick Egan | Tribune file photo) Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee speaks during a rally protesting against masks being required in schools in this July 15, 2020, file photo. Lee is leading the charge for the commission to repeal a property tax hike enacted in 2019 when the county governing body had a majority of moderate Republicans.

The Utah County Commission is holding a public hearing next month to gather input on whether to nix a recent property tax increase.

Former commissioners Nathan Ivie and Tanner Ainge voted to approve the hike in December 2019, with Commissioner Bill Lee opposing. It was the county’s first property tax increase in 23 years, meant to better fund county services like elections and criminal prosecutions.

But with Ivie losing his primary to Commissioner Tom Sakievich, and Ainge resigning earlier this month, the commission now has the votes to repeal the law.

“We will continue to carefully evaluate revenue projections and expenses over the next month before taking a final vote,” Lee said in a news release sent Wednesday evening. “I am confident that the citizens of Utah County will see a significant reduction in the county portion of their property taxes this year.”

Sakievich proposed a public hearing on the county budget, scheduled for 3 p.m. on April 21, during the commission’s meeting yesterday, as reported by The Daily Herald.

The property tax increase cost the average homeowner $83 per year. In the news release, Sakievich said the county had experienced unexpected growth in revenue, and that he did not intend to slash department budgets.

“Based on the current data available to me, the county revenue and expenses for 2020, it appears that the adopted $19.4M property tax increase is significantly higher than needed and places an undue hardship on Utah County residents and businesses,” Sakievich said.

The commissioner added that federal funds for the pandemic would not factor into budget discussions, including the $123 million scheduled to come to Utah County coffers from the recent American Rescue Plan.

The Utah County Republican Party Central Committee will choose Ainge’s replacement, likely on April 17 or 24. One of the first candidates to fill the midterm vacancy was Amelia Powers Gardner, the county clerk/auditor.