PROVO — A hefty and controversial 2019 property tax hike in Utah County might not be sticking around.
The new-look Utah County Commission passed a motion Wednesday to hold a public hearing about amending the 2021 budget and, potentially, lowering the property tax. The move comes after the commissioners who voted through the increase — Nathan Ivie and Tanner Ainge — left the commission.
In a statement, Commissioner Tom Sakievich — who bested Ivie in a GOP primary last year — said the county has experienced a "significant unexpected increase of revenue in growth, sales and property taxes" and hopes to "transfer excess funds to keep more money in the (taxpayers') pockets."
"My goal is not to reduce department budgets," Sakievich wrote. "... Based on the current data available to me, the county revenue and expenses for 2020, it appears that the adopted $19.4M property tax increase is significantly higher than needed and places an undue hardship on Utah County residents and businesses."
The tax hike was originally passed over the objections of Commissioner Bill Lee in a contentious, sometimes bitter debate that saw him ousted as commission chair, a position he now holds again. The increase was originally slated for 100% before being reduced to 64%, which Ainge and Ivie argued was necessary to cover new budgetary needs in the county's criminal justice system and other areas.
At the time, the county hadn't adjusted its share of the property tax rate in more than two decades. But Lee argued the increase was too large.
"One of the biggest issues that citizens have asked me about over the past 18 months is taxes," he said in a statement Wednesday. "By setting a public hearing for April 21, Commissioner Sakievich and I took a major step today towards reducing the massive county property tax increase of 2019. We will continue to carefully evaluate revenue projections and expenses over the next month before taking a final vote. I am confident that the citizens of Utah County will see a significant reduction in the county portion of their property taxes this year."
The public hearing is set for April 21 at 3 p.m. at the Utah County Administration Building in Provo.