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The City Journals

South Jordan Property Taxes Hold Steady for Fourth Year

Sep 14, 2015 02:23PM ● By Bryan Scott

    By James Luke

This year, Utah residents will all pay five cents more in state tax on every gallon of gas. Utah property owners will all see an increase in their state property tax payments in 2015. For the fourth straight year, though, South Jordan residents enjoy a steady local property tax rate.

It’s tax adjustment season statewide, and nearly three dozen municipalities see property tax increases in their futures. Cities and other entities with taxing authority, such as school districts and special services, fire or water districts, are required by state law to notify residents of changes to the property tax that will cost them more money in taxes.

Thirty-three municipalities throughout Utah have given notice, by means of scheduling “Truth in Taxation” hearings in August as required by law, that residents in their tax districts will pay more in property taxes next year. Many of the leaders responsible for increasing the property tax collection figures deny that they are raising taxes, though.

Salt Lake City authorities call the property tax bump a “tax stabilization” to even out revenues. Because of an increase in assessed home values recently, some municipalities are actually lowering the tax rate, but are collecting more in property tax revenue nonetheless. The Utah Taxpayers Association notes that it “certainly is a tax increase” when residents pay more on their yearly tax bill, regardless of how the tax is described.

Many school districts point to the effects of HB119, which requires revenue sharing with charter schools in the school district, as the need to replace funds that will be lost under the new state law. School districts seeking property tax increases include Salt Lake City, Granite, Murray and other districts statewide.

The Jordan Valley Conservancy District, from which South Jordan receives water, has requested an increase in the revenue that they receive in property tax. Pointing to recent costly projects including Strawberry and Central Water Projects, the water district has requested an amount equal to about $3 per home valued at $265,000 in the taxing area.

Tax increases are often viewed with some skepticism by the taxpaying public. Many of the taxing authorities who are seeking increases point to a combination of causes for the need to increase property tax revenue, including some increased personnel costs for insurance and retirement benefits and the lingering effects of the recent recession that hit many local governments hard, requiring cutbacks or deferred spending for some years.

“Property tax revenue in the city generally funds only about 70 percent of the costs of police and fire service,” a South Jordan councilmember noted recently. The remainder of the costs, plus other city services like recreation, parks, roads and administration, must come from other sources. Property tax rates are just one part of a complicated government-funding equation.