Wednesday, December 12, 2012

County Approves 2013 Budget; No Tax Hikes Expected

Utah County residents won't see an increase in their taxes from the county in 2013.

On Tuesday the Utah County Commission adopted a $72 million budget for the upcoming year that seeks no tax increases. Commissioners called the budget lean and praised the department heads of the various county agencies for finding ways to stretch taxpayer dollars as far as possible to make sure essential county services will be provided adequately in the upcoming year.

The upcoming budget includes a small increase in pay for merit employees of the county. County workers can expect a 2 percent pay raise should they pass their annual evaluation with their supervisor. It also includes a minor increase, about $1 million, to the county sheriff's office for public safety needs.

The county commission was asked to increase the amount given to officers' retirement funds. The commission supported the idea of increasing the county's commitment to the fund but only if the dollars came from the sheriff's budget. After going over the budget the sheriff decided that the money for the increase could not be found without cutting essential needs for public safety.

The county itself looks to be on track for a small increase in revenue for the year. While the intake from sales tax looks to be flat there was an increase in the amount of property taxes collected in 2012.

County clerk/auditor Bryan Thompson said in past years the county collection rate for property taxes was in the 80 percent range, but in the last year that number swung up to 91 percent. Thompson said the increase is due to delinquent properties being sold off recently and the new owners paying up on the taxes owed.

Utah County residents will see fewer construction barrels in 2013. The new county budget does not contain any major road construction projects for county roads. Public works director Richard Nielson said regularly scheduled road maintenance will go forward in the next 12 months but that major road building won't take place until 2014 when construction begins on roads in the south end of the county. Daily Herald