Salt Lake City property taxes could increase soon

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A property tax increase could be in your near future if you live in Salt Lake City.

The Salt Lake City Council said it desperately needs the $8 million the increase would generate, but they are giving the public a chance to weigh in before making any final decisions.

There was hardly anyone inside Tuesday night's meeting. It was practically empty, but there were still some vocal critics inside. Even Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is against the increase.

"I'm here to argue against increasing taxes," said Salt Lake City resident George Champman.

He said the council's latest budget move is bad, not only for residents but businesses too.

"For businesses it's a lot more, and for some businesses it's a big deal,” he said.

Champman has been a vocal critic on city issues before, and a property tax increase proposal is no different.

"Essentially what the city is doing is nickel and diming and quartering the Salt Lake City taxpayers because it's not just this tax, but the lighting, the athletic fee and on top of that they're asking the legislature for more sales tax revenue,” he said.

City Council members want to hike property taxes by 13.8 percent. The average resident will see their bill go up by about $68 a year. Businesses will pay around $500.00 annually. City Council Chairman Kyle La Malfa said it's a small price to pay for what the City will get in return.

"We're talking about run down streets, run down sidewalks, parks, park bathrooms, tennis courts, retaining walls—the kinds of boring stuff that the city needs to function,” he said.

Nothing is set in stone yet. Mayor Becker vetoed the budget, which included the property tax increase, but the city council had enough votes to override him. La Malfa believes if the city doesn't adopt the tax proposal, residents will end up paying even more in the future.

"Everyone agrees that at some point we need to raise taxes to raise the revenue to catch up on our deferred maintenance,” he said. “Some are saying, 'Let's wait one more year', and the longer we wait the more expensive it really is to fix.”

The city is required by law to hold several public hearings on the tax increase proposal. There's another meeting next week. The final meeting is in mid-August.