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County Comptroller: RDAs May Hurt Property Tax Revenue

County Comptroller: RDAs May Hurt Property Tax Revenue

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Weber County took in less property revenue than expected last year and it may be at least partly due to redevelopment projects, said County Comptroller Dan Olsen.

The county had $17.2 million in property tax revenue, which was up from $16.8 million in 2003 but less than the projected $17.5 million, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report presented to the County Commission last week.

The overall value of property in the county increased by $133 million from 2003 to 2004. However, $103 million of that appreciation occurred within RDAs, meaning local governmental entities -- including the county, cities and school districts -- did not see associated increases in property tax revenue.

"I think that had somewhat of an impact on why our revenues aren't where we thought they would be," Olsen told commissioners. "It makes me kind of nervous for 2005."

The report shows that 32 RDAs in the county took in more than $5.3 million in property tax revenue in 2004. An RDA is entitled to all property tax revenue, known as the increment, resulting from the combined assessed value within it that is in excess of the level assigned when it was formed.

When the value of property within an RDA falls below the level assigned when it was formed, governmental entities often must cover the difference to make loan or incentive payments.

The report said at least 10 RDAs in Weber County last year had assessed values below their assigned values.

The county is proposing a sizable property tax increase this year, and while Olsen said that's not entirely due to RDAs, they are a factor.

"RDAs affect the formula and they affect the tax rate that comes out of the formula," he said. "It's hard to quantify it. We know that they do have an impact."

Doug Larsen, deputy assessor for Weber County, said because RDAs typically increase sales tax revenue, the debate tends to pit counties against cities.

"Counties rely heavily on property tax revenues," Larsen said. "Cities rely heavily on sales tax. Property tax is not that important to them."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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