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West Jordan • For the first time in 24 years, City Council members in this sprawling southwest Salt Lake Valley city raised property taxes, but not before getting an earful from residents.
The 17 percent bump which will cost the owner of a $220,000 home an additional $41 per year will pay for 10 new police hires, sorely needed fleet upgrades, road repairs and new computer software.
Tuesday's truth in taxation hearing was the 10th opportunity residents had this summer to sound off to their elected officials. And for close to an hour, they filed forward and spoke, in large part, against the higher tax.
"I've lived in West Jordan since 1959 and I'm against the tax increase because I'm retired," James Romero said. "Our utilities and all our bills go up, but our wages don't. I'm tired of everybody wanting more money."
And West Jordan resident Stacy Norton said that officials have lobbied for the higher tax for years, an increase he believes punishes the poor.
"This has been the old push-push-push-until-we-get-what-we-want game," Norton told the council. "Vote for this, and we vote you out."
However, some came forward in support of the higher levy.
Resident Lyle Summers hailed the tax increase as a step forward.
"West Jordan needs to be ready for the next wave of residential, commercial and industrial development," Summers said.
Councilman Ben Southworth choked up with emotion as he explained his wholehearted support for the tax boost.
"You don't take the money from the people until you need it and this time we do," Southworth said. "What you're hearing is a cry for help."
Southworth described the budget cuts, reductions in force and wage freezes that city workers have endured over the past four years.
"This is a decision that has been building for multiple years," Southworth said, "and its almost the bare minimum of what we should do."
At a Taylorsville City Council truth in taxation hearing Tuesday, two residents spoke against a proposed 15 percent property tax increase. One of them, Robb Reger, was concerned that a rise this year could "open the floodgates" and lead to more taxes in the coming years.
But four speakers supported an increase, saying the amount was minimal and would benefit the community.
Taylorsville's tax boost will require the owner of a $172,000 home to pay $26 more per year or about $2.16 more per month. The owner of a business valued at $172,000 can expect an annual increase of $47.98.
The added revenue will fund street-scape maintenance and installation of a safety wall along 4100 South from Redwood Road to 1300 West, an area where cars have veered off and landed in backyards.
Taylorsville council members will vote on the city's 2013 budget and tax increase during Wednesday's session, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 2600 W. Taylorsville Blvd.