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Vineyard Town Council sets August tax truth hearing to consider property tax increase | News, Sports, Jobs

Carlene Coombs, Daily Herald

Vineyard City Hall is pictured on Thursday, June 27, 2024.

During its last meeting, the Vineyard Town Council voted to hold a “Truth in Taxing” hearing to consider a property tax increase. The hearing will be held in August.

The proposal calls for setting the certified tax rate from 0.002842 to 0.003369 in 2023. For a home valued at $559,000, this would mean a surcharge of about $164 per year, or about $13 per month.

Laura Lewis, a financial adviser at Vineyard, said if inflation continues to rise, the tax rate will fall over time as it is adjusted each year to raise the same amount of revenue.

Kristie Bayles, the city’s finance director, said the increase is necessary to offset additional public safety costs as the city continues to grow.

About $730,000 more would be needed for the fire department and $434,000 for the police, Bayles said in his speech to the council. There would also be a 6 percent increase in health insurance for employees and cost-of-living adjustments for the salaries of employees and elected officials.

“If we don’t raise taxes and we use the general fund to cover the difference needed for public safety, our budget balance will drop to 11% and that is not an acceptable level,” Bayles said.

Vineyard does not have its own fire department or police department, but rather contracts with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Orem Fire Department to provide these services.

Bayles said that even with the tax increase, not all of the public safety costs could be covered. About 30 percent still needs to be covered. However, that amount is expected to be covered by an increase in sales tax and revenue from building permits.

Bayles said they expected a 5% increase in sales tax revenue and a 26% increase in building permit revenue, which was attributed to the city’s continued growth.

Vineyard is in the process of building a firehouse in town to house firefighters from Orem’s department in order to speed up response times in town. This firehouse is intended to be a temporary solution for approximately five to ten years. After that, the town plans to convert the current town hall into a fire and police station and build a new town hall.

Lt. Holden Rockwell of the county sheriff’s office addressed the city council Wednesday night, explaining that as the city grows, he needs to continue to assign deputies to the area.

“The priority we have received from you and various councils over the years has been to be a proactive police department, keep our response times short and provide a high level of service,” Rockwell said. “And to do that, I have to hire new deputies virtually every year because we are growing and our demographics are changing.”

Rockwell said he will hire another deputy in July and another in January, adding that Vineyard has not met the standard response time for officers, which he said should be within five minutes.

During the council’s discussion of the budget, Council Member Jacob Holdaway questioned the need for tax increases and said the city should look at cost savings elsewhere, particularly in funds spent on Employee Appreciation Week and the city’s partnership with World Trade Center Utah. Holdaway voted against approving the budget and scheduling a public hearing on the proposed tax rate.

Councilwoman Mardi Sifuentes said she understands Holdaway’s concerns, but said they have already made cuts, such as denying requests for new staff from various city departments. She added that cutting capital projects to fund day-to-day functions like public safety is not budget-sustainable.

“I understand the concern,” she said. “It’s not like saving residents money isn’t a noble cause. I understand that. When I look at the budget, I feel like we’ve made adjustments.”

In reviewing capital projects in the city, Council Member Sara Cameron asked the council to consider holding a town hall meeting to show citizens what projects the city is working on and to provide transparency regarding spending.

The Truth in Taxation hearing, required by state law, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 14 at City Hall, 125 S. Main St.


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