With a new fiscal year scheduled to begin July 1, officials of many Utah County taxing units – school districts, cities, etc. – are busy these days mulling budgets, preparing for public hearings, and projecting tax levies.
In relation to this, the Herald makes these suggestions:
1. We urge taxing units to employ every appropriate economy to control spending and hold the tax line. Substantial tax increases were imposed on most property owners last year due to massive assessed valuation boosts in the state-ordered reappraisal program. To raise tax levies this year without a highly-urgent reason could add insult to injury.
2. Officials with the power to tax should not commit themselves on their mill levies at this point; rather they should withhold final approval until the new assessed valuation figures are in so they can be sure they are levying only the bare number of mills required to produce the necessary revenue. Valuation is bound to be higher this year in many cases due to growth and building programs.
3. Concerned taxpayers should take special interest in this period of budget and levy setting. We urge that they study proposed budgets and attend public hearings – whether to offer suggestions or commendation or simply get informed.
Some of the taxing units are projecting levy increases because of one pressure or another. For example: Alpine School District plans an increase from 36.04 mills this year to 41.84 mills; Nebo District from 39.62 to 42.84 mills; Provo District from 42.20 to 45.51mils; and Provo City from 15.21 to 15.42 mills.
Under School funding statutes, as applied to the reappraisal program, school districts must restore, over a four-year period, the levy cut made last year in the “maintenance and operation” fund. The three Utah County school districts are complying, of course, and in one case or another fractional boosts are proposed in other departments. Alpine District plans a fairly-substantial (three-mill) boost for capital outlay and debt service.
As we see it, tax levy projections should be considered just that – projections – until the figures on 1977 assessed valuations are in, even if this means waiting until after the public hearings. Maybe in some cases increased valuation will be large enough that a contemplated levy boost will not be necessary, except (in the case of the school districts) the required “M and O” increase mentioned above. Valuation notices still haven’t gone out for the county’s “big two” cities, Provo and Orem, and some other areas.
Since 1977 levies for taxing units for the county need not be forwarded to the State Tax Commission until the end of the first week of August, there seems no rush to formalize any individual levies just yet. it is reported many farm owners are switching land to “greenbelt” status for a lower assessment rate and that this will offset increased valuation from building: expansion. This may bc true, particularly in rural area, but it should not affect the urban areas appreciably.
Budget time is crucial for any taxing unit. Its a time for diligent efforts, both in supplying needed economies to control the tax burden.