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No Tax Increase Planned For Summit County

The Summit County budget process is well underway – a budget will be presented to the county manager by the end of next week and after a substantial tax increase last year, none is planned for the coming year. 

Summit County began working on the 2019 budget in June. County finance officer Matt Leavitt explains what they’ve done so far.

“We’re already midway through and we started back in June talking with the department heads and getting what their requests, or what they anticipate their requests will be for the next year. Those requests have been submitted and are now being reviewed by the budget committee.” Leavitt continued, “The budget committee will review those requests and make a recommendation for a balanced budget to the county manager by next Friday.”

The nine-member budget committee is made up of different department heads and elected officials.

“This year they’re really looking forward to ways in which the county can create better efficiencies in the processes that are being done.” Leavitt said, “Ways of trying to reward employees or recruit and retain employees. Those are some of the big areas that we’re looking at.”

The budget will be presented to county manager Tom Fisher on Friday September 14th. Fisher will then have time to review the budget and hear appeals from department heads before turning the budget over to the council on October 15th.

Last year the county held truth in taxation after a 27% revenue increase for the general and municipal funds. Leavitt says the big jump was due in large part to inflation.

“There’s no anticipation of looking at Truth in Taxation for the county for the next couple of years. It’s a process that should occur on a more frequent basis than what has happened in the past. However, it’s not something that we’re looking at for the next three-to-five-years anyway. The state legislature, in its infinite wisdom, has created a process that does not account for any impact on inflation when collecting property tax revenues.” Leavitt explained, “The amount of property tax revenues that a local government agency gets one year is in theory the same amount of revenue year after year after year. So as values go up the tax rate goes down to accommodate for that. If a local government agency gets $10 million one year theoretically they get the same $10 million year after year, so there’s no inflation factor built into that. In order to make up for the decreasing purchasing power over time, local government agencies are expected to go through the truth in taxation process.”

Leavitt says if these were held more frequently you wouldn’t see such a large increase.

“You wouldn’t see a 27% increase. The last time the county had grown through the truth in taxation process for the general fund was 30 years or more. You’re looking at trying to catch up with 30 years’ worth of inflation.” Leavitt continued, “Going through that truth in taxation process is not necessarily a bad thing and it helps create public awareness of where tax payers’ dollars are going. So, it makes the government be a little bit more accountable to the people.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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