Sandy City to consider possibility of property tax increase
Jul 25, 2018 01:21PM
By Justin Adams
Sandy City officials meet for a budget workshop meeting on July 17. (Justin Adams/Sandy Journal)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Cities across the valley and throughout the state are considering raising their property taxes, and Sandy may be following suit next year.
On July 17, Sandy-elected leaders and employees met for the first of several budget workshop meetings that will be taking place during the next six months.
“We want to better prepare ourselves for the next budget cycle,” said City Council Director Mike Applegarth.
Of top concern for the city will be whether they will need to raise property taxes next year.
“We’re just looking at our budget and asking what do we need to pay for,” Sandy Deputy Mayor Evelyn Everton told the Sandy Journal. “We have a lot of facilities that need to be either completely built or remodeled.”
Those facilities include a new public works building which burnt down last year, as well as repairs and renovations to the Sandy Senior Center and the city’s parks and recreation building.
“Something needs to be done with the parks and recreation building,” said Everton. “It’s pretty much falling apart at this point.”
Everton said the city also needs to build a new fire station near the Cairns development area to service all the growth happening there. All in all, Mayor Kurt Bradburn said during the workshop meeting that these facilities projects could cost the city upwards of $40 million over the next four to five years.
Add to that the increased compensation packages for the police and fire departments that were passed during this year’s budget and it’s apparent why the city would consider a property tax increase.
Nothing is certain at this point though. Everton said city leaders are going to take a hard look at making cuts to the budget before they decide to go with a property tax increase.
“We want to make sure that we are cutting things that aren’t essential so we can make the case to residents that we’re not just raising taxes so we can spend carelessly,” she said.
If city leaders decide to raise property taxes, Everton said it would be the first substantial increase in 25 years.
“The mayors before (former) Mayor (Tom) Dolan were raising taxes pretty quickly. There was a lot of growth they were dealing with, going from farmland to a suburban area. So when Mayor Dolan came in he ran on a campaign of ‘I won’t raise taxes.’ To his credit he stuck to that for a lot of years but maybe to the detriment of the budget when it comes to keeping up with inflation.”
Another concern for the city is an imbalance between the city’s revenue from property tax versus sales tax. According to Everton, 75 percent of the city’s tax revenue comes from sales tax. Normally this is great for Sandy residents because that’s what allows Sandy to have the lowest property taxes in the county. But in the case of another financial recession, sales tax revenue can significantly diminish, causing problems for cities like Sandy that heavily rely on it for their budget.
Helping residents to understand the city’s financial status as well as the nuances of property tax is going to be a priority for Sandy if they go down this road.
“Our goal is to make sure they understand that we’ve done our due diligence,” said Everton. “We want the residents to be confident that their money is being spent wisely, because at the end of the day it is their money.”
The first opportunity for residents to learn more will come on Aug. 14 when a representative from the Utah League of Cities and Towns will be coming to the city council meeting to give a presentation about the logistics and details of property tax in Utah.