Utah lawmakers OK county-option tax hike for transportation

| 9/22/2006

The Utah Legislature on Tuesday, Sept. 19, passed a bill during a one-day special session that would allow counties in the state to raise their sales tax by a quarter cent to pay for transportation projects.

The Senate approved the bill by a 24-5 vote. The House followed suit with a 55-19 vote. The vote margins allow the measure to go in effect immediately.

Sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Killpack, R-Syracuse, the bill – SB4002 – would require that revenue be used for “corridor preservation, congestion mitigation, or to expand capacity for transportation of regional significance.”

Counties would be required to spend a quarter of the money received to preserve rail or highway corridors. Additional portions could be used for road construction, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The next step is for counties to decide whether to put the tax hike on the Nov. 7 ballot. If approved by voters, a panel of county mayors each year would create a priority list of roads and public transit projects. The Legislature’s main budget committee would have to sign off on the projects.

Counties that approve the tax increase would begin paying the extra fee April 1, 2007.