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Wasatch County Council approves 2024 budget, tax increase for library

Residents offer their comments to the Wasatch County Council Dec. 6.
Grace Doerfler / KPCW
Residents offer their comments to the Wasatch County Council Dec. 6.

The Wasatch County Council voted to approve the 2024 budget and add a tax increase to fund the county library after public hearings Wednesday evening, Dec. 6. Some residents aren’t happy about higher taxes.

Residents who attended Wednesday’s hearing voiced frustration with what they say are rapidly rising taxes in Wasatch County.

Some pointed to the roughly $20 million increase in next year’s budget and asked for an explanation.

“The actual budget itself just seems interestingly crazy,” county resident Gordon Mortensen said. “I’m not digging into every nickel; I’m looking at the millions.”

He pointed to items like the county council budget, which is allocated $493,000 for 2024, almost $100,000 more than what the office was budgeted this year.

Resident Jane Marsh said while the county is spending freely and increasing the budget, its residents are scrimping.

“We’re trying to rein in our spending to be able to pay our property taxes,” she said. “I’m ashamed of the spending of our elected officials.”

One resident, who gave his name only as Franz, said the taxes on one of his properties went up 500% this year. He placed the blame on Californians moving to the Heber Valley.

“I don’t want to sell my property, but I don’t know that I can afford to live here,” he told the council. “This is absolutely ridiculous. I do not know how you can, in good conscience, increase property taxes by 300% to 500% in one year. I’d like to get a response.”

Nonetheless, after hearing all public comment, the Wasatch County Council voted to approve the 2024 budget.

It also approved a small property tax increase for the library fund. The money raised will help make the county’s only library self-sustaining, go towards building maintenance and pay the salary of a new librarian to expand community outreach.

Library director Juan Lee told the county council the library does much more than offer books on shelves: a Bookmobile travels to rural corners of the county, a collaboration with the food bank gets food backpacks to children experiencing food insecurity, librarians help residents learn to access resources and the library hosts community events.

“When we talk about the investment in the maintenance of the facility, that is very, very important to us,” he said. “We know people need those spaces to go.”

One library building serves the county’s approximately 38,000 residents. With the increase approved last night, the average household will pay just under $2 per month, or about $24 a year, for library services.

This is the first time taxes have been raised to help the library in its 30-year history.

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