ELECTION 2016: Utah counties to decide on transportation tax

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/26/2016

Voters around the state of Utah will head to the ballot box in two weeks to decide on issues that include a question about whether to raise taxes to help pay for local transportation needs.

Utah counties were given authority to pursue additional tax revenue for transit and transportation improvements via a 2015 state law. One year ago voters in 10 counties approved a one-quarter cent sales tax hike while seven counties voted against the increase.

Millard County voters will decide whether to adopt the local revenue boost. Specifically, ballots will include a question to raise $450,000 annually via a quarter-cent sales and use tax for transportation improvements.

Proposition 1 would authorize funding for projects that include local street improvements and traffic safety features.

The tax would be divvied among the county, cities and towns.

The county would receive 60 percent of the tax revenue that is estimated at $270,000 annually. Cities and unincorporated areas would claim the rest – $180,000.

Supporters say the proposition would provide a substantial piece of the local transportation puzzle.

“For just one cent of every four dollars spent – excluding food and fuel purchases – we can help maintain our local city and county roads,” advocates wrote in the voter information pamphlet.

They add that approving additional tax revenue now will ultimately save taxpayers money by removing the need to completely rebuild infrastructure down the road.

Ballots in Washington County also include a question to increase the local sales tax by one-quarter cent for transportation. Proposition 1 would raise $3 million annually for road and transit work.

Opponents say that instead of approving a tax hike the county should first eliminate any unnecessary funding and reallocate those funds for transportation needs.

In Summit County, ballots will include two questions for transportation improvements. Both questions would increase the local sales tax by one-quarter cent to raise an estimated $8 million annually.

The additional tax would not be collected on groceries and fuel purchases.

Proposition 9 would use $4 million to expand transit around the county.

Proposition 10 asks whether residents are in favor of road improvements, including enhancements of State Routes 224 and 248.

Proponents say the estimated $4 million each year would be used for projects that include dedicated bus and HOV lanes, intersection and access improvements, and Interstate 80 improvements. New funding would also be available for eligible roadway and transportation improvements in the cities of Coalville, Kamas, Henefer, Oakley and Francis.

For more 2016 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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