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Alliant fails in bid to cut property tax

Another court battle likely after council votes 6-1 to deny plea

It appears the contentious debates revolving around Alliant Techsystems and its property tax valuations aren't over yet.

And it appears the debates will spawn yet another battle that is headed for the courts.

This time, on Tuesday, it was the tax notices for the year 2000 that gave rise to a lively and animated discussion by the Salt Lake County Council, doubling up in its role as the Board of Equalization.

In a discussion inherently eye-glazing over tax valuations, "external obsolescence" and "total indicated values," the board managed to make mention of flying intercontinental ballistic missiles, childhood memories of climbing fences and flushing toilets.

The issue was approving the tax hearing officer's recommendation, by a 6-1 vote, to deny the appeal by Alliant Techsystems, which is making its annual argument that its rocket plant property is being overvalued by the Salt Lake County Assessor's Office.

The claim in overvaluation simply means Alliant doesn't agree with the tax bill it keeps getting handed by the county.

Five years of disputed tax values totaling $10 million resulted in a $5 million settlement reached by the previous Board of Equalization, made up of the now-defunct Salt Lake County Commission.

That settlement was overturned in March by the State Tax Commission, paving the way for more litigation in 3rd District Court.

With five years of disputed property tax notices already under the county's belt, another year of contested appraisals was on the table of the current board Tuesday.

The issue was whether to line up with the hearing officer's denial of Alliant's appeal of its 2000 property taxes.

Board member Jim Bradley offered a motion to accept the hearing officer's recommendation and was roundly criticized by fellow board member Randy Horiuchi.

"The entire space industry is going the opposite of growth," he said. "There wasn't a good job at evaluating the components of obsolescence. The intercontinental ballistic missiles are not flying around. When an industry like Microsoft is going in the toilet, you don't say yeah, let's assess them up."

Bradley was joined by board members Joe Hatch and Steve Harmsen, who both argued that Alliant Techsystems' argument was faulty. "It's a matter of saying, 'Am I making money? If I am, I'm obsolete. If I am not, I am obsolete.' That's what they're trying to say: We're making money but it is not important," Harmsen said.

The hearing officer's recommendation prevailed 6-1, with Horiuchi refusing to budge. Council members Winston Wilkinson and Michael Jensen were absent.