Report Provides Snapshot of How The Cost of City Services Impacts Taxpayers

Aug 3, 2015

Residents of South Salt Lake City pay more for city government per than the rest of Utah’s 50 largest cities. Riverton residents pay the least. That’s according to a new report from the Utah Taxpayers Association.

The taxpayer watchdog wants residents to know how much their city collects in taxes and fees and how that impacts their income. This comes as 15 cities across the state hold a Truth-in-Taxation hearing to vote on increasing property taxes. Billy Hesterman with the Utah Taxpayer’s Association says on average Utah cities pocket $25 for every $1000 residents earn and collect on average $568 per person.

“There is somewhat of a criticism that if you’re the highest you should look for ways to become more towards the lower, but the needs of Salt Lake City are different than the needs of Payson city and it would be unfair of us to compare those two and say one is better than the other,” Hesterman says.

The report shows Salt Lake City collects more money per capita in taxes and fees than other cities in the state at more than $1200 per person.  Next in line are South Salt Lake City, South Jordan, Lindon and American Fork. The cities that collect the least revenue from its citizens are Riverton, West Haven, Kaysville, Taylorsville and North Ogden.

But generally, he says cities should be looking to the private sector for certain services like trash collection and public pools.

“There’s been a longstanding theory of the taxpayers association that if it’s found in the yellow book, it’s something the government shouldn’t be doing,” Hesterman says.

Hesterman cautions Salt Lake City’s day-time population is much higher than its actual resident population, which means it has higher demands. Also, Riverton is one of the only cities in the state that doesn’t collect property taxes. And many cities differ in the tax bases, where some have higher commercial property tax or sales tax bases.