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Carbon tax rate ranks ninth lowest in Utah

Statewide property tax revenues are expected to reach $1.61 billion in 2002, an increase of $65 million or 4.2 percent compared to 2001.

State sales assessment revenues have climbed 0.2 percent, while income tax collections decreased 5.3 percent in 2002.

School districts will receive nearly two-thirds of the increase in revenues, explains the Utah Taxpayers Association. Cities and counties will be allocated 18 percent and 9 percent respectively, while special service districts will receive 8 percent of the increase.

School district property tax revenues will climb 5.7 percent in 2002, continues the association. Cities, counties and special service districts will experience increases of 5.6 percent, 2.2 percent and 3.8 percent respectively.

The increase in school district property revenues can be attributed to tax hikes by nearly half of Utah's public education systems, with Provo leading the way at 16 percent, points out the association.

The proportion of property revenues allocated to taxing entities changed slightly. School districts will receive 53.9 percent in 2002, up from 53.5 percent in 2001. The counties' portion decreased from 19.8 percent to 19.3 percent, while cities and special service districts remained virtually unchanged at 15.6 percent and 11.1 percent respectively.

Average property tax rates for 2002 continued to range dramatically among counties. A valuation weighted average rate is determined by dividing property assessments levied by all taxing entities within a county by the total assessed valuation.

Although property taxes vary, the average provides a mid-range estimate of the total tax rate, including county, school district, city and special service district levies.

Statewide, the 2002 valuation weighted average registers at 0.0126 or 1.26 percent, virtually unchanged from 2001. The statewide average is impacted by Salt Lake County, which encompasses 42 percent of Utah's valuation.

Excluding Salt Lake County, the statewide average decreases 10 percent to 0.011315. The county significantly impacted by high taxing rate entities like Salt Lake City and Jordan School District. The only other urban area to have a comparatively high property tax rate is Weber County. Weber is adversely impacted by Ogden, second only to Salt Lake City.

Wayne County continues to have the lowest property tax rate at .006282, 50 percent below the state average. San Juan has experienced a declining property tax base, replacing Emery County in the position of the state's highest average.

In Carbon County, the effective combined tax rate registers at .010031 or 79.6 percent of the statewide average. Carbon County's average 2002 combined tax rate ranks as the ninth lowest in Utah.

In addition to reviewing effective property assessments, the association annually compares the tax rates for cities, counties and school districts in order to determine financial prudence and indicate areas of concern. Several factors may significantly impact whether an entity's tax rate is high or low.

Counties with low property tax bases need to provide the same services as local governments with high bases. However, a high property base does not guarantee a low tax rate.

For example, Emery County's tax base benefits from the presence of large power plants. But Emery County still has the fourth highest average tax rate in the state.

Other factors impact average property tax rates, especially at the city level. Most urban cities impose a municipal utility franchise fee while many rural towns do not, explains the association. Cities with municipal power systems frequently have lower rates. The cities do not pay property, sales or income taxes on the facilities, allowing the municipalities to operate the power systems at a profit. The profits are used to fund city government, enabling the municipalities to maintain property taxes at a lower rate.

The statewide valuation weighted average property tax rate for school districts registers at 0.006800. Tax rates vary among Utah's 40 school districts. Tintic's rate, the highest for in Utah, is 108 percent higher than Daggett's, the lowest in the state. Districts with low assessed valuations per student frequently have the highest property tax rates. Suburban districts experiencing high growth also typically have higher tax rates.

However, the association indicates that several school districts buck the trend. A handful with low assessed valuations per student posted school district tax rates - excluding the basic levy - lower than the state average.

Weber's valuation per student and school district tax rate register 37 percent and 18 percent below the state average respectively. North Sanpete's valuation per student is 36 lower and the school district tax rate registers 28 percent less than the state rate.

At the other end of the spectrum, Emery's rate is 4 percent lower, but the school district's valuation per student is 121 percent higher than the state average. Wasatch's valuation per student is 64 percent higher than the state average, but the school district tax rate is only 10 percent below the state average.

Salt Lake has a large tax base, but continues to have the highest rate of all Utah cities at 0.005267. Salt Lake City's tax rate registers 102 percent higher than the state average. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Bountiful has the lowest tax rate at 0.001216 or 53 percent lower than the state average.

Despite having a large tax base, Emery has the highest tax rate of all Utah county governments. Emery's rate, at 0.004908, is double the state average for counties.

Wayne County maintains the lowest local government tax rate at 50 percent less than he state average. Utah County posted the state's lowest local urban government tax rate at 0.001382.

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