July 07, 2022

Fox 13 News: Bill to tweak property taxes and water use is advancing on Utah's Capitol Hill

By: Ben Winslow

Posted at 3:41 PM, Jul 06, 2022 and last updated 5:39 PM, Jul 06, 2022

Click here to read the full article on the Fox 13 News website.

RIVERTON, Utah  — A bill designed to change how Utahns pay for water in their property tax bills is advancing on Utah's Capitol Hill.

Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, is proposing a major change in how property taxes are calculated — and what they cover — in light of the ongoing drought emergency facing Utah.

"How do we take and pass the ultimate cost of providing water to all of the users that are using the water?" he said in an interview with FOX 13 News on Wednesday.

A large chunk of property tax bills cover water (it's separate from water bills that municipalities require). Sen. McCay, who chairs the Utah State Senate's Revenue & Taxation Committee, is proposing to change that.

"You can look around the community and see water-wasters all around for various reasons," Sen. McCay said, arguing for re-working taxes to ensure people pay for what they use.

The ultimate impact could mean some entities, who have never had to pay property taxes or for the water they use, will now have to spend a little money. That could include government buildings, churches and other nonprofit organizations.

"If you look at what we’re paying along the Wasatch Front for water? We really are getting a steal for our water anyway," Sen. McCay said. "As you see the need to conserve more, the only thing that really has to align that interest is to make the cost reflective of the risk of not having water."

The proposal, which Sen. McCay first introduced at the Utah Taxpayers Association conference earlier this year, has gotten mixed reviews.

"If you use a lot of water? You should have to pay for it. I think it’s only fair. We can all do our part," said Lynn de Freitas, the head of the environmental group Friends of Great Salt Lake.

She said in light of the Great Salt Lake hitting a new record low, Utah needs to re-evaluate how it handles property taxes and water.

Click here to continue reading this article on the Fox 13 News website.