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Tax shortfall adding to S.L. County woes

SHARE Tax shortfall adding to S.L. County woes

The Salt Lake County Commission is already rife with turmoil, and a large tax shortfall this year has only exacerbated the situation.

With a whopping $3.4 million difference in expected and actual tax revenues to overcome because of a Utah State Tax Commission settlement with utility companies, commissioners have involved themselves in political machinations and infighting over the matter.Last week commissioners debated whether to impose the levy or cut the budget to make up the shortfall. Randy Horiuchi wanted to impose the levy, but Mary Callaghan was adamantly opposed to it. That left Brent Overson the swing vote, and he wasn't happy about being there.

"(Imposing the levy) was the right thing to do, but politically the wrong thing to do," he said. "I'm not going to put myself in that position, where I'm criticized by Republicans for voting for tax increases. . . . The burden always falls on me to do something that's good for the county but bad for me politically - very bad for me politically."

Overson finally opted to vote with Callaghan, killing the levy. That meant the county had to make up the difference some other way.

To do it, Callaghan proposed an across-the-board budget cut. Fine, Overson and Horiuchi said - we'll start with your department, the Department of Human Services.

Sensing revenge for proposing an unpopular idea, Callaghan voted against it. Overson and Horiuchi passed it but later reversed themselves.

The whole incident set Overson off. Already consumed by what he perceives as Callaghan's broken promises and false claims, he confronted her in a Monday meeting, saying she was in "la-la land."

"You can't say you're not going to raise taxes and at the same time say you're not going to cut costs," he said.

The irony here, of course, is that Overson could have done either or both but, like Callaghan, whom he has much maligned, chose not to. He had Horiuchi's vote on the judgment levy and had Horiuchi's vote on the budget cut but opted not to proceed because of potential political heat.