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RESIDENTS TOLD TO BRACE FOR TAX HIKES

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Many residents, especially those with older homes, will see a property tax increase in Davis County next year.

But the increase won't be as dramatic as 30 percent to 40 percent hikes first reported in the wake of Monday's factoring order by the Utah Tax Commission, according to county assessor Willard Gard-ner.The commission ordered the county to increase valuation of some homes between 30 percent and 48 percent, Gardner said, to offset the county's skyrocketing property values fueled by growth and in-migration.

Hardest hit are homes over 45 years old, which will see their value increased by 48 percent, said Gardner. The flip side of the issue is that new residents, those living in homes less than 10 years old, will see no valuation increase.

The commission ordered the county assessor's office to increase valuations on homes from 10 to 19 years old by 30 percent; homes between 20 and 44 years old by 40 percent; and homes over 45 years old by 48 percent. Gardner said his office was also ordered to reassess all commercial property and vacant land from Centerville south.

The increases could be offset as various taxing entities - cities, the county, the school district and other special service districts that apply property taxes - lower their tax rate to avoid reaping what Gardner called a windfall property tax.

"But I'm comfortable in predicting that there will be some tax increases," Gardner said. "The state Truth in Taxation law requires that if the entity is going to collect more revenue than the previous year, that they advertise and hold a public hearing.

"But there are some entities that have demonstrated that they are willing to take the heat and take the money," the assessor said, referring specifically to the school district.

While some property owners, especially those who own older homes, will face a hike, Gardner said newer residents living in homes less than a decade old could see their property taxes decrease as rates are cut by some cities.

"It's the down side of property values increasing," Gardner said. "You have these little 900-square-foot frame homes in the older parts of Bountiful, for example, that we've been valuing at $30,000 or $40,000 that are now selling on the market for $100,000. Those are the people that will feel it."

Those are the people who may be able to afford the increase in valuation the least, Gardner added, many of them being retirees or older people on fixed incomes who've lived in those homes for most of their adult lives.

Property owners will receive their new valuations next July when the county mails out its valuation notices.