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West Jordan residents protest tax hike

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WEST JORDAN — For Carl Thompson, the roughly $70 West Jordan is considering adding to his property tax bill is too much.

He's an average Joe Resident who still has a job, but paying about $8 per month more to the city's coffers — through already approved fee increases and a tax increase that could yet be implemented — is enough to break the bank.

"I'm down to one meal a day," Thompson told three city council members and the mayor at a forum Wednesday night that was organized to foster a discussion between the council and residents on the city's budget. "You want to raise utilities, property tax, communications tax. My insurance went up, doctor bills have gone up, everything has gone up ... Where am I going to get the money for the increased taxes? I understand you need money. We all need money. But where am I going to get it? I've tried to cut back all I can."

About 20 residents, half of them elderly, attended the forum to ask questions similar to Thompson's. "Where has the city cut its budget? Why can't more be cut? Why raise taxes?" were questions repeated throughout the meeting by residents frustrated with the answers they received.

Mayor Dave Newton and council members Melissa Johnson and Ben Southworth said openly that they are against raising taxes, on top of the other fees that have already been raised by the city this year. Councilmen Kim Rolfe and Jim Lems were not at the meeting.

Council members Kathy Hilton and Lyle Summers said the $3 million a year the city hopes to add to its budget through the tax increase would be used to fund road repairs, pay for fuel cost increases and maintain city services.

Newton, Johnson and Southworth said they don't think the taxes need to be increased this year, but Summers and Hilton said the tax should have been added earlier to keep the city afloat.

"This is not familiar ground for me to be advocating a tax increase, but I'm convinced the time has come that we need to increase the revenue to the city," Summers said. "There are a lot of things we can do that need to be done with that extra money. It seems to me that this is as good a time as we're ever going to find."

The city recently implemented a 3.5 percent telecommunications tax, increased the Municipal Energy Sales and Use Tax by half a percentage point and increased several fees and services. The changes combined should bring about $2 million more to West Jordan.

The next public forum to discuss the tax increase with the council is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 9 in the Bingham Creek Library, 4834 W. 9000 South. The council will have a final public hearing and make a decision on the issue Aug. 12 at City Hall, 8000 S. Redwood Road.

E-mail: achoate@desnews.com