As population continues to rise in the Heber Valley, Wasatch County is considering raising their tax rate in order to keep up with the growth.
Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis says that the county is considering a truth in taxation hearing. Davis says that if they were to try and raise the tax rates for the county it would be to help with county employee retention.
“The wages of, particularly law enforcement, we're not keeping pace with,” Davis explained. “So, there is a discussion right now going on of whether or not we would want to try and hold the rate to last year's rate, which would generate between $500,000 and $800,000. If that happens that money would go into increased wages. Not only for law enforcement, but for instance, in the attorney's office and other areas where we're having difficulty of retainage of employees. Our wages are little on the lower side compared to some of our neighbors, including Summit County, Park City and so we're playing a little catch up there.”
Davis said that this past year Wasatch County in value alone in the county increased close to a billion dollars. He says with that growth they are monitoring whether they need to raise the rate to cover employee retention costs or not.
“We’re looking exactly at that issue,” Davis said. “Do we need to do truth in taxation to get it? Or, are we going to pick up enough growth to be able to cover it? So as we go through this process, we’ll make that determination and see where that falls.”
On a separate but somewhat related issue Wasatch County recently approved a development known as Benloch Ranch. The 2,100-unit development east of SR-32 near the Jordanelle will have 50,000 square feet of commercial development. Davis says even without a lot of commercial development the county will still be able to collect taxes to service the area.
“They do have a large hotel they’re building. It's what's called a horizontal hotel, so it's made up of separate cabins that are spread out over a large area,” Davis continued. “It's several hundred units that will be a good commercial generator, the rest of it will be in secondary homes mostly. So, we do have that responsibility growing but so is our tax base to pay for it. It's like I said we grew almost a billion dollars last year and so that's a pretty big support for it.”