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Wasatch County has mixed reactions after taxes increased for library

Librarian Linda Bliss welcomes visitors to the Bookmobile during its weekly visit to Hideout.
Grace Doerfler / KPCW
Librarian Linda Bliss welcomes visitors to the Bookmobile during its weekly visit to Hideout.

Wasatch County recently voted to raise taxes to help fund the library. Librarians say the increase is key to the work they do – but not everyone agrees.

Every Thursday afternoon, librarian Linda Bliss parks the Bookmobile at Todd Hollow Apartments in Hideout to meet children on their way home from school.

The library on wheels, borrowed every week from Summit County, is stocked with after-school snacks and English and Spanish titles for readers of all ages.

Wasatch County Library Director Juan Lee said with only one building in Heber City to serve roughly 38,000 residents, the Bookmobile is a way to get resources to more corners of the county.

“We know that many people do not come to the library facility because it’s not convenient,” he said. “So how can the library take the programs… into the community where people are already gathering?”

Now, with the county council’s approval, next year the library will receive about $400,000 more to help pay for community outreach, building maintenance and a new librarian.

But some say taxes are rising too fast.

Tracy Taylor, who leads the Wasatch Taxpayers’ Association, spoke at the Truth in Taxation hearing Dec. 6. She said the public should have been given more detailed information about the library budget.

“It’s not necessarily anti-library,” she told the county council. “It’s more understanding the budget in much more detail than what we’re being supplied.”

And Heber City resident Mike Hewlett said he knows the library is important, but he’s frustrated with the county’s spending.

“Why do we need to keep making things nicer and fancier, and nicer and fancier?” he asked. “Why can’t we go back to the ‘70s-era, utilitarian buildings that were functional?”

He said with taxes going up every year, the county’s spending should be more conservative.

“This is the most un-conservative, un-Republican thing – I mean, they’re just socialists,” he said of county leaders. “They’re just taking everything we have to do pet projects.”

Despite complaints about taxes, the council opted to approve the increase for the library.

Lee said he feels the pain of higher taxes, but the money is needed to offer high-quality services to the county, from Heber to Hideout.

“You are investing in the future of your community,” he said. “It’s very much needed to maintain a public institution that is doing a lot of public good.”

The Wasatch County Library is near the high school in Heber City, at 500 East 1200 South.

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