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Taylorsville Journal

Record sales tax revenues and Uncle Sam shield homeowners from a property tax hike yet again

Jul 06, 2021 03:58PM ● By Carl Fauver

A late change to the new Taylorsville City budget provides extra funding for the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center to make repairs and pursue a position on the National Register of Historic Places. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Perhaps more than any other single reason, the case can be made that COVID-19 saved Taylorsville residents this year, from the kind of property tax hikes homeowners in neighboring communities have endured over the past several years.

First, our old friend coronavirus prompted many city residents to shop closer to home, leading to yet another record year for Taylorsville sales tax revenues. And second, the pandemic prompted Uncle Sam to commit $12.3 million dollars to the city, over two years.

The influx of federal dollars means property taxes will remain unchanged and the city council was able to earmark extra funding for a couple of different projects.

“[Raising] property tax is not in my vocabulary,” Mayor Kristie Overson said. “We are managing our funding very well. I am delighted sales tax revenues are up. I think residents appreciate how important it is to shop locally. We’re also seeing growth in new home building.”

But what about a year from now, after that spigot of millions of federal dollars is shut off, post pandemic?

“We won’t spend money we don’t have,” Overson said. “We are doing what we promised: bringing in new businesses. As long as we do that and people continue to shop locally, we should be fine.”

For the first time in the 25-year history of Taylorsville, sales tax revenues for fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021) were pacing to surpass $10 million. City Chief Financial Officer Scott Harrington reports that this is the fourth straight year for a new record in sales tax revenues.

“Back in 2008, before the Great Recession, the city set a new sales tax revenue record, at $8.4 million,” Harrington said. “But the recession hit us hard and dropped sales tax revenues for a decade. Finally, in 2018, we barely beat that 2008 record. Since then, we set another record ($9.1 million) in 2019 and another in 2020 ($9.6 million). This year we are on pace to have $10.3 million in sales tax revenues.”

In addition to residents consciously trying to shop more in Taylorsville, city officials believe two other key factors are helping to boost sales tax. First was last October’s opening of the Target store in Taylorsville (5800 South Redwood Road). And second, the city is now receiving sales tax revenues for all purchases made by city residents on Amazon.

“It is super tough to enforce getting our proper sales tax revenues from online businesses,” Harrington said. “But we are getting it from Amazon, and that’s a very big chunk of it.”

As for the coronavirus-related federal funding, Harrington said the city received $3.2 million late last year. Leaders were also to receive another $4.5 million sometime last month (it had not arrived by press time, but was expected). Yet another $4.5 million is then due from Uncle Sam sometime before June 30, 2022.

That influx of $12.3 million over about 20 months has made balancing the books easier—for now. But those millions will not be a part of the next Taylorsville budget, a year from now.

However, along with those unusual one-time funding boosts, the city has also undergone some hefty one-time expenses this year. Most notable of those were extensive city hall remodels, to mitigate disease, construction and landscape work on the new Centennial Plaza, south of city hall and start-up costs for the new Taylorsville Police Department, while the city was still paying its final few months of law enforcement fees to the Unified Police Department. 

Before its final, unanimous vote to approve the $33,356,500 FY 2022 budget, city council members voted to earmark funding for a couple of priorities:

  • $500,000 for construction of a wall on the west side of 2700 West, starting at 5400 South and progressing toward 6200 South
  • $100,000 for new pickleball courts
  • $100,000 placed into reserve for the new Taylorsville Police Department, in the event unexpected cost overruns occur
  • $60,000 for repairs to the bridge in front of the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center (1500 West 4800 South)
  • $25,000 for repairs to the skateboard area in Taylorsville Park (4700 South Redwood Road)
  • $8000 for the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center to pursue inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and to seek matching funds from national foundations.

City Engineer Ben White reports that the half-million dollars for the wall on 2700 West will not fund the entire length, from 5400 South to 6200 South “but should get a lot of it done.”

“I want to get the design work done by the end of this year and get crews working on it as early as the weather will allow in 2022,” White said. “It could be we can get 70% to 80% of the wall done with that much money. At that point we would probably approach the council to see if they can identify the rest of the money needed to just finish it [all the way to 6200 South].”

Meanwhile, White describes the $100,000 earmarked for pickleball courts as a “placeholder.”

“I’m not sure when work would begin on pickleball courts, because first the council would have to decide where they want them,” White said. “Pickleball cost estimates are about $60,000 per court; so that $100,000 would not even cover two courts. It could be we do not break ground on new pickleball courts until additional funding can be allocated to the project.”

There are now only two public pickleball courts in all of Taylorsville, located in Millrace Park. The courts are fine and functional in the middle of the day. But because the courts run east–west, players complain the bright sun is in their eyes in the early morning and near sunset.

White reports that it will also likely be early next year before improvements are made to the bridge in front of the Taylorsville-Bennion Heritage Center. 

“The $60,000 identified for that project will allow us to completely replace the aging bridge railing,” he said. “We do not believe there are any structural problems with the bridge. But the railing is cracked throughout and has been a problem for years. It will be good to replace it.”

The first of these “special projects” likely to be completed is the $25,000 in improvements to the skateboard park. Just minutes before city council members were to approve the budget, the Mike Hasebroock family (Mom, Dad and four kids) appeared before the council complete with a PowerPoint presentation, showing some of the dangerous disrepair at the park. Moments later, their efforts were rewarded when the council earmarked the repair funding.

“We live nearby and my kids walk to the skateboard park often,” Hasebroock said. “When they told us about the repairs that are needed, we encouraged them to do more than just complain, to take action. That’s what led to our appearance before the city council. We weren’t expecting such an immediate response (the $25,000 repairs allocation). We are all very excited about it.” 

“My goal is to complete the skateboard park repairs before the end of the year,” White said.

When all was said and done, all but $21,000 of the $33 million-plus budget had been allocated. And, again, that includes $4.5 million in federal money that won’t be available a year from now.

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