The Utah County Commission voted on Wednesday to reduce the county property tax rate to 0.000724%.

The decrease, which passed unanimously, is the latest move to roll back a $19.3 million tax increase to the portion of property tax collected by the county that a previous makeup of the commission approved in December 2019.

The approved decrease means Utah County will collect $9.6 million less in property tax revenue this year, representing a 49.7% reduction to the 2019 increase.

Commissioner Bill Lee, who voted against the increase two years ago, said in a written statement that “Utah County taxpayers have waited 18 months to see a meaningful reduction to the excessive tax increase approved in December 2019.”

“I have strongly advocated reducing that tax increase from the moment it was approved, and I am thrilled that today we essentially cut it in half,” Lee said. “Commissioner (Tom) Sakievich and Commissioner (Amelia Powers) Gardner, both of whom ran on reducing the 2019 tax, should be commended for joining with me to provide this relief to the people of Utah County.”

The property tax increase approved in 2019 was an effort to balance the county budget and accommodate rapid growth. Before the increase, Utah County had not raised its property tax rate in 23 years.

During Wednesday’s commission meeting, Lee called the proposal, which he put forward, a “reflection” of discussions that all three commissioners have had about adjusting the property tax rate.

“I think this is a great day,” he said. “We’ve been working on this. I haven’t necessarily campaigned on this, but I’ve been talking about this openly and there’s been campaigning to do something of this nature.”

Gardner said she thought it was a “reasonable” proposal that “keeps us on track but still only taxes at the rate necessary.”

“I think it’s one that’s still providing for the needs of the county and providing a level of service to the citizens that is hopefully getting us more on track to meeting statutory guidelines,” said Gardner, former clerk/auditor.

Gardner continued, “It keeps us, for the next 10 years, being solvent while also reducing the tax rate. So I think that it’s a very good balance.”

Sakievich praised the proposal and said “it’s been great to see how this has shaped itself over these past several months.” He also noted that former Commissioner Steve White helped put the proposal together as the commission board’s budgetary analyst.

“And, for me, that helped tremendously. Because past commissioners, I’ve learned, take a year or two to understand this,” said Sakievich, who took office in January. “And I’ve had five months to actually work (on) this after the COVID process. So I’d count myself lucky.”

In his written statement, Lee thanked “all the citizens who have reached out on this issue since 2019.”

“Your voices have been heard loud and clear, and I am proud to represent your interests on the Utah County Commission,” he said.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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