A clerical error in Wasatch County means the county will collect $6 million less in taxes than what has been planned for.
The error was in regard to a parcel in the Twin Creeks area. The parcel was erroneously listed as having a taxable value of $543 million. In reality, the parcel's taxable value was in the $500,000 range. Wasatch County Manager Mike Davis explains the five entities impacted planned their budgets believing they would be receiving a higher amount of tax dollars.
“Because the valuation was higher, it lowered the tax rate, and when that valuation was corrected, we couldn't change the tax rate,” Davis explained. “So, we're going to be collecting less money. The way the Tax Commission works it is they work with the entities so that over the next three years they will collect that money that they would miss out on during this tax collection period right now. So, we do get it back eventually. It'll make everybody pay just a little bit more the next years, but they're paying a little bit less this year. We just catch it up.”
The result of the error means $6 million will not be collected in 2020: $1 million for the county's budget; $4.3 million for the school district; $250,000 for the fire district; $200,000 for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District; and nearly $150,000 for the County Parks and Recreation District.
Davis discovered the problem over the weekend, after which the county council held an emergency meeting to tackle the issue on Monday, Nov. 4. The county is making adjustments in order to meet their new budget. Davis says some county projects might be delayed, even though the county will eventually receive the money.
“One of the things that we were going to do for the county was put a half million dollars in a capital projects fund to start saving for a new administration building,” Davis said. “So, we won't put any into that, so that takes care of half of it. The other half we’ll use some other funds in reserves, so we’ll make it up.”
Davis offered apologies to those impacted and says the county is working to avoid having a similar situation occur again.
“We’re very sorry that this happened, particularly to the entities that it's affecting,” Davis continued. “We are putting additional measures in place to try and catch these types of anomalies. We recognize that mistakes happen entering data. When you have 20 something thousand parcels, we know that there's going to be some errors. Generally, it's not a $500 million error, but we are going to put some stopgaps in place that will catch these anomalies so that we'll have to go back and look at them before we can finish the tax roll so that hopefully we can catch these before we get them on the tax roll. If we’d have caught it right then, it wouldn't have been an issue at all, because we would have just fixed it and it would have adjusted everything, but catching it six months after we've completed the tax roll and get a certified tax rate is not a good time. So, yes we are doing some things and we want the public to know that.”
Davis has been in contact with the other entities impacted and said they are also working on solutions and feel confident they’ll be able to make the necessary adjustments for the coming year.