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The City Journals

Sandy City mulls possibility of property tax increase as budget season begins

Apr 22, 2019 03:11PM ● By Justin Adams

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

In the coming weeks and months, the Sandy City Council will be having a serious conversation about the possibility of raising residents’ property taxes. 

After the city administration presented its tentative budget for the next fiscal year during the April 16 council meeting, Councilman Zach Robinson broached the controversial topic by asking the other council members to cosign a letter to the administration formally establishing a conversation about raising property taxes. 

“I want to work with the administration and have this conversation out loud, in regards to generating revenue,” he said. “Pretty soon if we don’t start making significant changes, we’re going to have to look at our service delivery to our citizens. There’s no question about it.”

Robinson said the council has been discussing the possibility of a tax increase for six months and that it was time for the conversation to happen “in front of the public.”

Councilwoman Linda Martinez-Saville said she felt “exactly the same.”

Councilwoman Brooke Christenesen also agreed.

“I want to have this discussion out in the open in front of everyone. I think we need to seriously consider a tax increase and looking at our options for bonding so we can build the facilities that we’re desperately in need of as well as fund our day-to-day operations,” she said. 

Mayor Kurt Bradburn voiced his support for not only having the conversation about a tax increase, but also promised his support for “any tax increase you’re willing to give us.”

“I may be the first Republican to go on record as supporting a tax increase, but I don’t have any money left to operate your city so we could desperately use it,” he said. 

The city’s need for increased revenue is laid out in the administration's tentative budget. A section titled “Challenges with General Revenues” reads:

“The costs of maintaining our service levels throughout the community have continued to grow each year from inflation and population growth. A major issue facing the City is that two of our three major financing sources for our General Fund, property and franchise taxes, are declining or remaining stagnant and unable to keep up with rising costs. This means our revenues have less buying power, which makes it increasingly more difficult to maintain our service levels.”

Councilman Chris McCandless said he was open to having the conversation but that he wouldn’t be supporting anything close to a certain percentage increase that was included in Robinson’s letter.

“I might be the lone wolf out in the woods howling, ‘No don’t raise my property taxes.’ I have a real problem with raising property taxes when I don’t feel it’s absolutely necessary,” said McCandless. 

Ultimately, the majority of the council opted not to sign Robinson’s letter for similar concerns about specific figures used in it, but all agreed that the conversation will take place in earnest within the coming months.