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Summit County balances most of budget, reduced tax increases still possible

The Summit County Courthouse in Coalville.
Parker Malatesta
The Summit County Courthouse in Coalville (above) is where the second and final hearing on county taxes will be Dec. 13 at 6 p.m.

Next year Summit County residents won’t be paying as much in taxes as initially thought.

About an hour before residents came to voice opposition to increased taxes, staff presented the balanced budget the Summit County Council had asked for.

The general fund and the municipal services fund won’t go up in 2024. Financial officer Matt Leavitt says they comprise about 86% of the county’s operating budget.

After weeks of back-and-forth, councilmembers made it clear to County Manager Shayne Scott they wouldn’t approve a tax increase for general and municipal funds. It’s Scott’s job to propose a budget, so he and Leavitt made over $4 million in cuts.

The final cuts include $2.5 million for a new landfill cell, but staff and councilmembers agree the county must make that purchase next year.

They also cut $200,000 from the county attorney’s budget for litigation and $100,000 that was going to help plan the county’s new open space acquisitions.

The county will partially fund community child care and requests from the Park City seniors.

$150,000 for child care will support county staff needs. An extra $130,0000 will go to the wider community.

“A portion of that is to provide child care for our employees,” Council Chair Roger Armstrong said. “I've been saying for a while we need the business community to take a look at providing a benefit for families that need [child care] just like you would health insurance, life insurance and other benefits.”

Seniors countywide will get an extra $94,000 next year; $8,200 of that is specifically for Park City seniors, who are hoping to expand services and facilities in their new building.

Even after millions in cuts, on Dec. 13 the council may still approve tax increases in other areas including the so-called Service Area #6 and the assessing and collecting fund.

Service Area #6 is a recently-expanded district that handles road repair and snow removal in the Snyderville Basin. Only some Basin residents live within its boundaries, but they may pay $91 more annually.

If the council approves that increase, it’s unlikely residents will pay that full amount though.

Because the service area annexed new property in March, it will get new tax revenue from those areas. County staff don’t know if the new revenue would be enough so the council may approve a tax increase just in case.

The other tax increase still on the table is for property assessing and collecting. This tax is countywide, and the median taxpayer’s bill would go up $23.

The money goes toward the property tax process, which puzzles some residents, like Shirin Spangenberg from Prospector.

“What I'm hearing is that we taxpayers are going to pay more money, so you guys can assess us more, so that we can pay more taxes,” she said at the Dec. 6 public hearing.

The assessing and collecting fund, which accounts for 9% of the county’s day-to-day operating budget, ensures properties are accurately valued and taxed.

Many taxpayers voiced frustration Dec. 6 with that process, feeling the pain of rising property values.

The assessing and collecting fund hasn’t increased its tax revenue in at least two decades, which is as far back as Leavitt’s records date.

It may do so next Wednesday, Dec. 13. That Truth in Taxation hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the Coalville County Courthouse.

Corrected: December 12, 2023 at 12:20 PM MST
An earlier version of this report incorrectly said Summit County budgeted about $200,000 for child care, when it fact it has budgeted closer to $300,000.
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