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Senate gets bill banning tax hikes without voter OK

A bill that would essentially place a moratorium on property-tax increases for the calendar year 1998 is headed to the Senate floor.

The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted 4-3 Tuesday to approve SB52, which prevents any taxing entity in the state from raising property taxes this year without the approval of voters.Sen. Steve Poulton, R-Holladay, said 25 counties have lowered their property taxes in exchange for an additional percentage of the sales tax. Those reductions will show up on the tax rolls this fall.

Poulton, however, fears some counties may try to increase property taxes to keep the amount of tax revenue consistent with the previous year, meaning taxpayers would only see a leveling off of taxes and not an actual reduction. His bill is designed to prevent that from happening, except when a ma-jority of voters agree to a tax increase.

If a taxing entity intends to ask voters for approval to raise taxes, the election would be held on June 22, according to the bill.

Poulton said he believes the measure has enough support to make it out of the Senate but could run into trouble in the House because of "that moderate caucus wanting to raise taxes and grow government."

The bill likely will be amended on the Senate floor, Poulton said, to allow school districts to enact a tax increase if they have already gone through a public voting process.