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Why did my taxes go up?

Contributing writer

I enjoy being part of this community, but there are many times when I hear complaints about the governing bodies of the community. When you get right down to it, the source of the complaint is ignorance.

State code does not allow local government to do very many things without it notifying the public, whether it be by code, public notice, or public hearings. It is up to the public whether or not they choose to partake of the information that is offered. An example is the public hearings regarding the future courthouse (that have been so poorly attended).

Recently Carbon County mailed out the Disclosure Notices to all property owners in the county as required by state code. This is to inform the tax payer what the value the property they own has. It is to show it has been assessed by the county assessor, and the proposed tax rates that it will be taxed. This information can then be accepted by the land owner, or appealed during the board of equalization.

While I won't go into detail, this process enables the tax payer to make sure that there is fairness in the VALUE that is assessed on the property. The board of equalization has nothing to do with the TAX RATE.

Some of you have seen values jump over the years. The reasons for this are many. The assessor is required to reevaluate every property in the county, every five years. Each of the five reappraisal areas are looked at by the assessor's office to determine if there have been changes to the property that would increase or decrease the value, and if the value placed on the property are also in line with sales that have occurred in the area. This tells them if it is line with what the "market" is doing. This process is supervised by a representative of the state tax commission to ensure that the assessor does not get out of line.

Once the process of valuation is complete, the values are given to the county auditor to set the tax rate. This is much more than the below formula, but you will get the idea.

(State Assessed Value + County Assessed Value) X Tax Rate = Entity Budget

State code allows the taxing entity to adjust the tax rate WITHOUT a public hearing to keep the entity at the same budget as the previous year. If their budget is increased or decrease this requires a public hearing, as noted on your disclosure notice. (See State Code Title 59 Chapter 2)

If the values of the properties go up, the tax rate goes down. If the values of the properties go down, the tax rate goes up to keep the budget balanced for the taxing entity.

The taxing entities in the county include Price City, Helper City, Wellington City, Sunnyside City, Scofield Town, East Carbon City, Carbon Water Conservancy District, Price River Water Improvement District, Utah State School Levy, Utah State Assessing and Collecting, Carbon School District, Local Assessing & Collecting, County Municipal Services and County General.

What determines which of the levies you are required to pay depends on the geographical area that your property lies in, These are also noted on your Disclosure notice.

Now comes to the answer to "Why did my taxes go up?" These are the scenarios.

•Your property was one of the five areas that got a detailed review by the assessor's office, and they found that the value should be higher.

•The State tax commission feels that the values in your area have gone up by a factored amount, due to sale information. The state then requires the assessor to factor the area by the amount the state tax commission decides.

•The value of state assessed properties have been decreasing in the area. This means that the tax rate must be raised on both locally assessed, and state assessed values to bring the budgeted value in balance. This is where much of the increases in the area have been coming from. State assessed properties, are just what it implies. These are on values that are assessed by the State of Utah, because the business that owns them owns properties in more than one county. Example include the railroad, coal companies, gas companies, telephone companies etc.

When their production is low or a location is closed, their value is dropped. The burden of their lost value, is then transferred to the entire population of the area through the tax rate imposed on the entire value.

As you saw in Sunnyside this year, the value of the Sunnyside Cogeneration plant lost a considerable amount of value. In order to keep the budget the same as allowed in state code, the tax rate was increase by all citizens to share the burden.

•You did something to improve the value of your property, such as a remodel, addition, garage, etc...

•This scenario is the rarest, but does occur. When the taxing entity needs an increase in the budget much like the Carbon School District just did, they do it through a process that is called "Truth in Taxation." Now seeing how there are approximately 14,000 properties in Carbon County, I would feel safe to say that most of these budget public hearings are very poorly attended.

All in all, I guess it is just easier to complain about a process than to understand it. It sure is a lot more fun!

Tax rate information for the last 20 years shows how the rate fluctuates, but this information doesn't tell the whole story. With further investigation it can be shown that the State Assessed Properties have gone down causing the local residents to bear the burden of their loss in value.

So I guess the reason for my taxes going up, would be to pay for loss in value for a big business that is in the area. The ironic thing is that if a large company is doing well in Carbon County, and in the rest of the state they are doing poorly, causing an overall loss, the state reduces their value which causes the local citizens to make up the loss. That would take place while in reality, they are making a profit in your county.

So why not give the assessing power to the governing body that the businesses assets reside in?

Disclosure: I work for Carbon County, but it is not my job nor responsibility to set tax rates, collect tax monies, value properties, nor record legal documents. I am not speaking on behalf of Carbon County or any other entity. I speak on my own. All information in this document was obtained through public information and can be obtained by anyone who so desires it. I pay taxes like everyone else.

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