Salt Lake County raises taxes, trims wages

Salt Lake County raises taxes, trims wages

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake County's new budget asks taxpayers for an extra $13.4 million, cuts employee wages and closes some recreation centers on Sundays.

The county council approved the 2010 budget Tuesday in a 5-4 vote along party lines. Democrats argued that higher taxes were necessary to maintain key services. Republicans urged more cuts in the budget rather than a tax hike.

The property tax increase will mean the owner of a $260,000 home will pay about $20 more a year. A $1 million business will pay an additional $171.

Sales tax revenues have slumped so the county has cut spending, which left more than 300 positions unfilled.

Employees will face a 2.75 percent pay cut under the new budget and will receive no contribution to their 401(k) accounts.

Funding will also be pulled from programs such as urban forestry and the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.

Other elements of the budget include shutting eight recreation centers on Sundays and reducing funding for the Sandy amphitheater and the Utah Sports Commission.

"It is a measured and conservative approach to balancing our county's budget in difficult times," Mayor Peter Corroon said in a statement.

Democratic Councilwoman Jenny Wilson said she's pleased the situation isn't more dire.

"It is because of shared sacrifice," she said.

Republican Councilman David Wilde said taxpayers shouldn't have to sacrifice more.

"In a time like this when people are hurting, it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to avoid a tax increase," he said.

Tuesday's hearing on the budget attracted about 40 people. Most urged the council not to raise taxes.

"You see people being foreclosed on their homes. You see people losing their jobs. You see people's 401(k)s being blown apart," said Justin Holdaway of Cottonwood Heights. "You see everything in the private sector going downhill. But the public sector just continues to grab more and more."

One man, though, said he's glad to pay more taxes for Salt Lake County services.

"I'm in favor of the tax increase," Alden Laney of Millcreek said at the hearing. "Did you all hear that? I'm in favor of a tax increase. I like the sidewalks that we walk on. I like the streets that we drive on. My tax increase is not high enough."


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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