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Published on Friday, February 10, 2017

Local officials express overwhelming support for new limits on property tax increases

Last Friday, the House Finance Committee heard AWC’s priority bill to link annual property tax increases to inflation and population growth, HB 1764. Numerous local officials representing cities, counties, police, and fire testified in support of the bill.

Substantial testimony was presented on the difficulty of cities and counties to maintain services, especially public safety, when costs exceed the one percent allowable increase for property taxes. Sheriffs and police chiefs spoke to their inability to have adequate law enforcement coverage 24 hours per day with some shifts having no officers at all. In addition, some jails are understaffed and unable to accept inmates around the clock, and prosecutors cannot keep up with the number of arrests. As public safety costs increase, local revenue is being redirected from other services, such as roads, bridges, and parks.

Legislators asked why jurisdictions did not just seek voter approval to increase levies, and supporters aptly explained why that was costly and inefficient, especially when local officials are already accountable to voters.

In order for the bill to continue moving through the legislative process, the committee must pass it by Friday, February 24.

Categories: Budget & finance