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Provo Municipal Council has first look at possible truth in taxation hearing

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jun 6, 2023

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

A statue of Brigham Young stands with the Provo City Library on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, along University Avenue in Provo.

Like most households, Provo city is feeling the effects of inflation, cost increases, payroll adjustments and more. For that and other reasons, the municipal council on Tuesday discussed the possibility of holding a truth in taxation hearing in August.

During Tuesday’s work session, council executive director Justin Harrison explained the needs for an August hearing. The four areas of the city’s portion of the property tax includes the general operations fund, interest and sinking funds/bonds, the public library and discharges of judgements.

The city is currently carrying a total of $94 million in remaining debts to be paid at $11 million a year, in terms of bonds. The discharge of judgements includes any lawsuit brought against the city in which the city must pay. The city of Provo does not collect property taxes of judgements that must be paid.

It is the general operations and library that needs a financial boost. The renovations and completion of the old BY Academy are closing in on the 30-year mark and the building is needing upgrading to keep it safe and in good condition for public use.

The Library Board is suggesting incremental increases of $100,000 a year for the next five years. That means an average home in Provo, valued at $453,000, would pay $2.57 more a year in taxes.

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald file photo

The new Provo City Hall is shown Thursday, June 30, 2022.

Carla Gordon, library director, said doing small increments would not hurt families financially as opposed to increasing the library’s property tax portion all at once.

There was money left over during the original renovation of the library and, according to Gordon, a fund balance has been used for the past 10 years to cover the library budget.

“We haven’t raised the taxes (library) in 23 years,” Gordon added.

Administrative Services director John Borget told the council there is also a library legacy fund of $2 million, “set up so the city doesn’t have to touch the principle.”

When it comes to the general operations, a property tax increase would go directly to hiring one or two police officers, help with the airport and other general needs of the city.

Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

A bike rack stands along University Avenue in downtown Provo on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

The Council has expressed interest during the budget process to increase funding for public safety but has not indicated to what level. “My expectation was to have a nominal yearly increase for public safety,” said Councilman David Shipley.

Hiring one police officer costs the city between $120,000 and $130,000 each year. That includes payroll, benefits, equipment and training.

The suggested increase would take the tax percentage of 6.5% to $7.16 to the property taxes of a $453,000 home for the general operations. A 6.5% increase to the general operations portion of the property tax would garner an additional $340,000 in property tax revenue.

The fiscal year’s budget for 2024 must be approved in the next three weeks. If they decide to hold a hearing, the council would still approve the budget as a tentative budget until decisions were made in August and the budget is finalized.

The council is holding a budget work session at 2 p.m. next Tuesday where they will discuss the matter further.


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