[dfads params='groups=4969&limit=1&orderby=random']

Wellington council raises property taxes for the year

Contributing writer

The Wellington City Council decided that they needed to raise property taxes on Wednesday night but not without some reservations by all involved.
The tax hike adds an up to 44.69 percent increase for both residential and commercial properties. For example a home that is assessed at $105,000 has been paying $111.46 to the city, and that would increase in the next year to S161.30. A business that has a value of $105,000 was paying $202.65 will now be paying $292.37. The entire increase for both business and residential, would net the city about $47,000 more per year.
During the public hearing for residents and business owners to comment on the issue, many were opposed, a few were neutral and a couple felt it was a needed increase. Compared to many tax hike public hearings the meeting was very civil with many residents lamenting the increase and some asking why it was needed.
“Most people cannot afford that increased tax rate,” said Paul Childs, a former councilman and mayor of Wellington. “I suppose this tax increase would put us having the highest tax rate in the county. And I oppose it. Most people cannot afford it. It will raise my taxes $43 per year, and that is one fishing trip. I am on a fixed income, and the majority of the people in this town are on a fixed income. That’s a huge increase at one time.”
However Glenna Etzel, the city recorder, said she did some research, and it showed that with the increase the town would be about equal with Price and Helper. She said that East Carbon has the highest rate and that Scofield was the lowest.
A number of people who protested the increase said they didn’t understand why the city needed more money. Others said that they might be more amenable to it if they did understand what the money was going to.
“I am not really opposed to the tax increase, but I want to know if the city is in the red or in the black,” asked Jerry Rich of the know what this increase is for.”
Etzel and the council attempted to assuage their concerns.
“The increase will allow us to hire another person for the public works department,” explained Etzel. She pointed out that the city only has two workers to handle everything including the cemetery. “We also need money to help us with our IT needs.”
She said that the computers and other technology the city is using is giving them a lot of trouble and that working on the expertise of the system is beyond anyone who works for the city.
“We will use about $5000 of the money for that,” she stated. “The work will be contracted out.”
It was also explained that the part of city hall that has been rented to Head Start will be empty this year since the program is moving out. This not only takes away some income from the city, but the rental revenue helped to cover the maintenance and heating of the entire complex. The income from the rental has been about $28,000 per year, yet maintaining and heating the building is about $20,000.
Mayor Joan Powell, along with Etzel, pointed out that the city was almost in trouble in terms of balancing the books this past year but had some money in unrestricted funds they were able to use to fill in the balance sheet. Last year the city had $58,000 taken away from it in tax revenue, and the towns operation has been on a very strong austerity program since then with even the smallest purchases needing approval before they are made.
Wellington has been plagued by lower tax revenues for a number of years due to a bill in the legislature a decade ago that was actually designed to bring more mining support businesses to towns in the state but instead caused the loss of funds from businesses that currently have property and operate in municipalities. Powell said that Senator David Hinkins been able to help mitigate some of that with legislation, but that help will sunset in about five years, so the city needs to plan now for when that happens.
Some in the audience also talked a little about disincorporating and becoming a part of the county thinking that would take away some of the costs. However it was brought up that anything the city presently owes would still be owed by the residents. In addition, county taxes are going up as well. If the city were to dissolve the Price River Water Improvement District would take over the water and sewer lines and most of the water lines in the city, while still viable, would be replaced because the composition of those lines does not meet PRWID’s standards. Residents would be charged for that type of replacement project as well.
There was also a discussion about how many of the vehicles and some of the equipment the city owns are old and have high miles on them. Police vehicles have faulty air conditioning, maintenance trucks are running on parts that don’t really work and other problems.
Nearly all the council members lamented having to even consider a tax increase, and after the public hearing there was discussion among them about it. One did point out that the city has not raised property taxes in almost 30 years.
Only four of the five council members were present when the final vote was taken. The final tally was three to one to go ahead with the tax hike.
The only nay vote came from Councilman Glen Wells.
“It was really a hard decision,” said Powell later. “I wish that former mayors would have taken it more seriously. Especially when they knew the sunset money from the legislature would someday come to an end. It’s hard to expect all the citizens of a town with a declining population to carry the burden of all the services that the city provides.”

[dfads params='groups=1745&limit=1&orderby=random']
scroll to top