Salt Lake City Council Overrides Mayor's Tax Hike Veto

Jun 21, 2013

The Salt Lake City council sidestepped the mayor’s veto of the city- council-approved budget today, which includes an $8 million property tax hike.

The council overrode the mayor’s veto on a five to two vote, with Councilman Stan Penfold and outgoing Councilman Carlton Christensen voting no.  Outgoing Councilman Soren Simonsen said the city can no longer scale back on maintenance to keep ordinary government operations afloat. 

“I don’t think under funding a program that is vital and core to the city services that we provide is an efficiency," Simonsen said. "I think it’s simply borrowing from the future.”

In a letter the mayor delivered to the council on Wednesday, Becker said Salt Lake City could have made it through the next year without a property tax increase. He recommended a balanced budget to the council that did not require an increase in taxes. But members of the council say it was too lean at a time when streets, sidewalks and parks are deteriorating.

Becker said the council declined to consider a range of funding options or provide meaningful public engagement in the process. He also highlighted the impracticality of planning new infrastructure projects without adding more staff.   

Chairman Kyle LaMalfa said the council did the best it could to engage the public while operating under time constraints outlined by state law; the mayor provides his budget recommendation in May and the council must approve a budget by June. 

“The hard choice that the council made was to realize that someday we’re going to need a tax increase to shore this up and the longer we wait the more expensive it’s going to be to get us to the quality level that residents demand," LaMalfa said.

This year residents who own a $200,000 home will pay about $54 more on their taxes, while businesses worth $1 million will pay about $500 more.