Public hearing • Most speakers rail against proposed tax hike, but supporters surface, too.
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A mistake in a legal notice prevented the Salt Lake County Council from adopting its tax-increasing 2013 budget on Thursday, delaying action until a special meeting at 7 p.m. Friday at the County Government Center, 2001 S. State St.
But in the second of two public hearings on the proposed $785 million budget, the council heard from another 15 people who, like Tuesday night's speakers, ranged from dumbfounded to incensed about its 16 percent increase in property taxes to pay for the delivery of countywide services and 22 percent hike to fund library operations.
For owners of a $238,000 residential property, mean value in the county, those combined increases would add up to about $77 a year $59 for countywide services and $18 for the library. In terms of those homeowners' overall tax obligations, including tax payments to schools, water agencies and other special service districts, the proposal would boost the bill about 3 percent, according to budget documents.
Unlike Tuesday's public hearing, Thursday's included speakers supporting the tax hikes as a means of preserving already large public investment in facilities, programs and amenities that improve residents' quality of life.
"The county needs to prepare and provide basic services for growth," said Emigration Canyon resident Gary Bowen, noting he appreciates his frequent use of county recreation centers.
Rebecca Anderson, of East Millcreek, said the library's collection of big-print books has been a godsend for her sight-impaired grandmother. East-side neighbor Rob Hunsaker applauded the county for developing facilities that especially benefit the less affluent. "I hope you'll pass the increase to protect those investments," he said.
But they were outnumbered by critics of the proposed tax increase, which the County Council pared down from the 17.5 percent $64 a year recommended by outgoing Mayor Peter Corroon.
Michelle Hunt of South Jordan, and Nate Jensen, of Herriman, were motivated enough to speak both nights against it.
Jensen laid out five reasons it was a bad idea to increase taxes and suggested the county should stop subsidizing facilities from the Salt Palace Convention Center to the zoo, golf courses and recreation centers. "I'm not talking about critical services, but silly b.s. and other things we're paying for," Jensen said.
Hunt said she could accept slightly higher taxes, but not 16 percent. "Quit giving people what they don't need," she said. "You can cut this down into low single digits."
Added Jared Christensen of Kearns, "Let's find a way to get through this without making us, the taxpayers, slaves to the government. … Let's not raise our taxes now. If you do, I promise you there will be voter repercussions."
The Salt Lake County Council will meet again at 7 p.m. Friday in the North Building of the County Government Center, 2001 S. State, to adopt the 2013 budget and some or all of its proposed tax increase.
No public comment will be accepted Friday evening, but residents may contact council members by email during the day. Contact information is available at www.slco.org.