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The Salt Lake County Commission has unofficially set property tax rates and midyear adjustments for its 1990 budget, and depending on where you live in the county, the rate will mean you pay the same tax as last year or about $1 more.

Although commissioners approved raising the countywide rate .0024 percent to its certified limit and the library rate by .0006 percent, reductions in the debt service and municipal service rates cause the total property tax rate of .7446 percent to remain unchanged from last year.The increases in the countywide and library rates will result, however, in slight tax increases for citizens living in cities within the county (please see box).

Officials said that property owners in unincorporated areas of the county won't experience any tax increases because the municipal services levy, which only applies to the unincorporated areas, went down enough to offset the countywide and library increases.

But homeowners in unincorporated areas each pay about $125 more in county taxes than those who live in incorporated cities, despite no change this year, because they pay the county for municipal services provided by cities to their residents.

The rate was set Monday after the commission approved midyear adjustments to its 1990 budget. With the adjustments, the county increased its budget by $8.43 million to $243.08 million.

Commissioners won't officially set the 1990 property tax rate until June 18, but it's unlikely the commission will change its decision.

The three-member commission briefly debated whether to levy the countywide certified rate and new library rate or keep the same rates as last year. Both options would have resulted in no change in the overall rate, although not increasing the countywide rate would have offset the increases to be paid by city residents.

Commission Chairman Michael Stewart proposed levying the certified countywide rate, saying the increases for two-thirds of the county's property owners were minor and it would avoid major increases in the near future.

Commissioner Bart Barker, who is up for election this year, espoused the no-increase alternative. "My intent going into this budget was no tax increase, but if you live in a city, there will be," he said after the commission approved the certified rate increase by 2-1.

The swing vote was cast by Commissioner Tom Shimizu, also up for election in November. He voted for the increase after hearing budget director Nelson Williams warn against keeping the rate the same to save taxpayers about $1.

Williams' biggest fear was the looming initiative to remove sales tax on food. He said it has a good chance of passing in November, and if it does the county would face a major property tax increase in 1991 to make up the difference.

"This (the increase in the countywide rate) will help us try to minimize the problem if the tax initiative goes through," Shimizu said.


(Additional information)

Estimated tax changes

Estimated property tax increase for residents of Salt Lake County, based on the value of homes:

$70,000 home $100,000 home

Unincorp. areas no increase no increase

SLC or Murray* 71 cents $1.02

Other cities 96 cents $1.38

*Residents not levied for library services