Salt Lake City — To ensure a balanced, substantive discussion about tax policy in Utah, good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH has launched a new website – www.UtahTaxFacts.org.
The launch of the website coincides with the recent announcement of a proposed property tax increase in Salt Lake County and will begin by tracking Salt Lake County tax issues ahead of a December 11 public hearing on the tax hike. Citizens of Salt Lake County will benefit from a site dedicated to fact-based information and a substantive discussion of tax issues, especially as other groups, including the Utah Taxpayers Association, seem more interested in hijacking the tax discussion for political purposes. To date, the Utah Taxpayers Association and other groups and individuals have chosen to focus on diversionary issues like the timing of the county’s announcement of the tax proposal rather than the substance of the proposal itself.
“There’s nothing sexy about taxes,” said Better UTAH founder Josh Kanter. “But we have to get rid of the notion that they are universally bad, or that support for a tax increase is a de facto acknowledgment of the end of one’s political career. Constituents demand programs and services, including police and fire services, roads and sewers. These programs and services are paid for through shared tax dollars.”
The Salt Lake County Council is in the process of considering the county’s proposed property tax increase to address a budget shortfall that has been percolating for a number of years. Without the increase, over 300 county employees will lose their jobs. Five recreation centers, four senior centers, two libraries, and the Oxbow jail would also be on the chopping block without the increase.
“Taxes of all kinds may be anathema to those who hope to drown the government in the bathtub, but Better UTAH believes in a healthy and fiscally responsible government that provides the services required to meet the needs expected by its constituents,” continued Kanter. “That, unfortunately, sometimes requires a tax increase.”
The County Mayor’s office and the County Council are engaging in bipartisan, good-faith negotiations to preserve both services and fiscal responsibility. The fact that the Republican-led County Council has only been able to reduce the proposed tax increase by $2.5 million is a testament to the Mayor’s and county’s continued record of fiscal responsibility and the balanced approach of this bipartisan effort. It is unfortunate, however, that much of the savings proposed by the council comes at the expense of county employees. The proposed increase is now closer to 16 percent. Those changes, which can be hard for the public to follow, will be updated at utahtaxfacts.org.
“The county’s constituents demand certain services and it takes certain revenues to provide those services,” said Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH’s executive director. “It’s a fairly simple equation but the difficult decisions revolve around the services provided and their cost. This website will go a long way to introducing Utahns to the facts by drawing on resources from all voices in this tax policy debate.”
Alliance for a Better Utah | 801.557.1532 | www.betterutah.org
The Alliance for a Better UTAH is a year-round, multi-issue education and advocacy organization providing resources, commentary, and action on important public policy matters.