Here we are talking about Salt Lake County Approving an Increase in Property Taxes to Fund a Library System. Salt Lake County authorized a property tax increase for the County Library system for the first time in ten years. After ten years of rising costs and wages, not to mention the recent year of extremely high inflation, the rise will enable the library system to continue operating. Without more financing, a number of the library’s older branches, according to spokesperson Sara Neal, would have been forced to close permanently.
There would have been significant discussions about where to make cuts and what services to eliminate in the future, according to Neal, if the tax increase had not been authorized. We would not be able to reopen an older branch if it had to close due to a system failure, and I believe that was one of the main issues we were considering: If we do not have enough money to fix them, they will simply have to close.
The Whitemore branch in Cottonwood Heights, the Ruth Vine Tyler branch in Midvale, and the West Valley branch, according to Neal, will probably need to be replaced in the upcoming years. She claimed that in addition to having to deal with the usual effects of inflation, such as staff rises and higher overhead, the library has recently put off some minor repairs to reduce costs.
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As a part of the county’s 2023 budget, the legislation was passed by the Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday. The average Salt Lake County home is now subject to $30.49 more in annual property taxes due to an increase in the county library tax rate from 0.000386% to 0.000485%.
The increase was endorsed by several municipal and county officials, including Midvale Mayor Marcus Stevenson, who expressed concern about a “possible closure or service vacuum” in his neighborhood.
This is a need, not just a want, he declared. “In my neighborhood, the poverty rate is higher. The services that libraries offer are so important to families, individuals striving to get on their feet, and people living in poverty.”
He stated that for many low-income children who depend on library services for educational support, even a brief interruption in services could have negative long-term effects.
However, many who were against it claimed they were concerned about the increased cost to homeowners, particularly those with poor or fixed incomes. Several members of the community indicated they were still opposed to the hike even though many said they supported libraries and the services they offer.
Given the abundance of information available online, several people questioned if the services were genuinely necessary and were skeptical that the county system would have to reduce services in the absence of the higher fee.
According to Neal, modern libraries offer a lot more than simply the ability to borrow books. They also give many locals who don’t have access to the internet at home access to vital services like internet access.
The county council voted to approve the budget and tax rate increase, which will take effect the next year, following more than an hour of public remarks.
Neal acknowledged that she sympathized with individuals who were miffed by the rise but expressed gratitude to the council for approving the plan after careful consideration to avoid increasing taxes until they were necessary.
“Paying off bonds and debt from the new branches we’ve established over the previous six years is part of our budget,” Neal added. “The county council approved the construction of numerous new library branches in 2016, but they refrained from voting to raise the tax rate because doing so would have placed an even greater burden on the taxpayer.
They advised against seeking a rise until the debt payments were to begin.” In addition to the $47 million the system allotted for the library in 2022, the rate increase will generate an extra $11 million in revenue.
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