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Cottonwood Holladay Journal

Breaking down the proposed Cottonwood Heights property tax increase

Jul 25, 2018 10:58AM ● By Cassie Goff

The property tax residents pay go not only to the city, but also to nine different government entities. (Cottonwood Heights)

By Cassie Goff | cassie@mycityjournals.com

If you’re a Cottonwood Heights resident, a mailer from Salt Lake County should have arrived in your mailbox stating that the city is currently working through the Truth in Taxation process to raise property taxes. As part of the process, the city will hold a public hearing on August 14 at 7 p.m. at City Hall (2277 E. Bengal Blvd.) addressing the proposed tax increase.

This tax increase only applies to a portion of your property tax payment. For homeowners residing within the boundaries of the city, the biggest portion of the tax goes to the Canyons School District, followed by Salt Lake County, Cottonwood Heights City, Cottonwood Heights Parks and Recreation, Jordan School District Debt Service, Salt Lake County Library, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District, the Cottonwood Improvement District and the South Salt Lake Valley Mosquito Abatement District.

Salt Lake County, the Central Utah Water Conservancy District and Cottonwood Heights City have all proposed property tax increases. The city has proposed a 22 percent tax rate increase. To break it down: for a $400,000 assessed value home, the property owner will pay an extra $7.38 per month or $88.51 per year.

 In order for a government entity to raise taxes in Utah, they must go through a Truth in Taxation process. The process begins before June 22, where entities must adopt a tax rate and budget while notifying the county auditor about a desired tax increase. The county auditor then sets the dates for public hearings for all the entities wishing to raise property taxes. Entities must hold that public hearing. After the public hearing, the property tax may be adopted with a resolution sent to the tax commission.

The need to raise property taxes stems from many different factors within the budget. Two out of the four main revenue sources for the city are anticipated to decrease. Additionally, expenditures continue to rise. The Unified Fire Authority (UFA) raised their fee by $205,356 from the previous year. Legislative bills passed in March will take $68,000 from the city’s budget. Inflation of certain expenditures like a cost-of-living adjustment increase for employees has also made their relative impacts on the city’s budget.

After years of never having to raise property taxes, the Cottonwood Heights City Council did not make this decision lightly. Since January, they have been working through the budget for the 2018–2019 fiscal year in many budget workshops, retreats and discussions to make cuts where necessary.

As part of those cuts, the mayor and city council budget will experience a 4 percent decrease to their relative budget. The finance department will also experience a decrease by 60 percent, as the finance director position will be dissolved.

Cuts have also been made to the relative budget allocations for emergency management (37 percent from $17,600 to $11,000), the Cottonwood Heights Police Department (4 percent from $5,936,488 to $5,723,622) and UFA (5 percent from $3,919,759 to $3,715,140).

Additionally, expenses related to City Hall overhead maintenance have dropped 13 percent for the fiscal year. Expenses for highways and public improvements will drop 6 percent (from $2,629,582 to $2,484,562).

For the 2018–2019 fiscal year, the council anticipates additional funds going toward capital project road repairs ($1,454,137 will go toward road improvements), Mountview Park and Butler Park projects ($110,000 will go toward Mountview Park) and enhanced snow plowing.

Expenses specific to this budget include $50,000 for a roundabout, $200,000 for the Ferguson Canyon Outfall Line, $30,000 for TRCC Lighting Match, $27,800 for pickleball courts and $1,859,827 for the police vehicle lease which is renewed with Ken Garff every two years.

The Cottonwood Heights Journal initially reported on the tentative budget in May. Check out cottonwoodholladayjournal.com for more information from that story.

To see the budget packet, visit the city news section of cottonwoodheights.ut.gov.