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Wasatch County

Wasatch County assessor promises progress on property tax ‘problems’

Ben Lasseter
Daniel Town, Wasatch County

Wasatch County residents met with the county assessor to discuss what many have called unfairness in how homes have been valued for property tax purposes in the past decade.

According to Wasatch Taxpayers Association Chair Tracy Taylor, some homes in the county have been assessed more frequently than others, dating back to the early 2010s. Especially as home values have skyrocketed in recent years, some are paying increased property taxes, while others’ rates haven’t changed.

County Assessor Todd Griffin acknowledged that imbalance in his update to the Wasatch County Council Wednesday.

“When I took over in January, coming into the office, I knew some problems existed,” he said. “I’m not the only one who noticed - the taxpayers association as a group came forward, as well as individual taxpayers, concerned about the process for assessments in our county.”

He said his office has determined there are over 4,500 properties in the county that have had less than a 30% increase in the past five years. Of those, nearly 2,000 have had no change.

Griffin said that indicates those homeowners could be overdue for assessments. When Councilor Marilyn Crittenden asked about the plan to fix the issue, he said his goal is to get current on all overdue assessments by next May.

“As much time as possible, our emphasis is going to be on the reappraisal, to get these ones accomplished that have been identified by May 22 of next year. The majority of these will get resolved. So, in due process of reassessing properties, this problem will get leveled out, for lack of a better term,” Griffin said.

“So, ones who have not been assessed as often as they should have been, you’re working on those this year to get those corrected,” Crittenden said.

“That’s correct,” Griffin responded.

When all properties are assessed consistently, there’s more parity in everyone’s taxes, and hikes are less steep.

Wasatch County’s budget includes a fixed amount of property tax revenue each year. For 2021 that number was $14 million. Under that system, the county divides that total among property owners. Since the amount is fixed, when someone’s property value goes up, and they must then pay more taxes, other people’s rates go down in order to keep the total the same.

The exception to that is when new development comes to the area. When new homes are added, the fixed rate is increased to include those new taxpayers. So for example in 2022, the county budget’s property tax revenues are set at just over $15 million, $1 million above the previous year’s total due to new development.

Resident Mark Lords is one of the residents who was recently reassessed. He told the council his property taxes nearly doubled this year. He said he and others feel the hikes they experienced are unfair while others’ stayed flat or even decreased.

Griffin said he will update the council on appraisals in quarterly reports. Taylor asked the council to hold another meeting in January to discuss progress.