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In year of sharp value increases, Wasatch County taxpayers can expect changes to tax bills

Highway 40 wasatch county heber
Ken Lund on Flickr
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As Wasatch County property owners receive 2022 tax notices, they can begin to calculate roughly how much they'll owe in taxes this year.

In Wasatch County this year, property values jumped by more than 50%.

As the county clerk sends tax notices this week, property owners are learning how valuable the county believes their properties to be. Some have already seen those numbers on the county’s online tax lookup service.

County Assessor Todd Griffin reported major increases in assessed property values this year. The combined value of all the county’s properties this year exceeded $18 billion, up from about $12 billion in 2021. That’s a 53% increase.

Griffin’s report covered property values, not what people will actually pay. Tax rates haven’t been calculated for this year yet, but assessed values can be used as a preliminary indicator.

“Todd's just reporting the values, but it has impacts on the taxes,” County Manager Dustin Grabau said. “The tax rate drops based on the growth of the market value.”

Counties in Utah collect fixed amounts of property tax revenue per year, so tax rates are adjusted to produce those amounts. A public process is required for counties to collect more revenue.

This year, the assessor’s office recorded about 1,200 new parcels, up to 27,763 total parcels in Wasatch County. That’s a 5% increase over 2021.

Besides new properties, the gross value increase is the product of values on many existing properties going up — more than in a typical year.

A normal year’s goal is to conduct on-site assessments of 20% of the county’s taxable properties, or about 4,000 to 5,000.

In 2022, county assessors identified about 3,600 properties that should have been assessed in the past five years and were not due to the previous assessor falling behind. Griffin said this year, his office has reduced that backlog by assessing 2,700 of those.

Griffin said those properties that were overdue account for some of the sharp increases owners are seeing.

“I'm not only worried about myself, but what about these people on fixed incomes?” Wasatch County resident Pam Patrick asked the council last week. “That's what I'm worried about, if their homes are going up as much as mine has gone up.”

Councilmember Marilyn Crittenden said she shared Patrick’s concern for people on fixed incomes.

Griffin said in the future, the county will use new technology to prevent parcels from slipping through the cracks, which occurred over the past decade.

He said because assessments should happen more regularly, making increases more gradual, individual increases as sharp as this year’s should be less common in the future.

Tax notices mailed this week are not tax bills, just announcements of assessed property values. Property owners have until September 15 to file appeals of the amounts, which they can contest in front of the Board of Equalization if they believe their values are incorrect.

Ben Lasseter reports for KPCW in Wasatch County. Before moving to Heber City, Ben worked in Manti as a general assignment newspaper reporter and editor.
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