Christian Bryner, Carbon County Attorney, spoke with the commissioners during their Wednesday evening meeting regarding a request to amend resolution 2019-09 to decrease 2020 Municipal Services Fund certified tax rate to .000625.
Bryner stated that a group of five citizens brought a formal request to the county. The commissioners wished to inform all that from the group that turned in the request, there was not a representative present at the meeting. The request was placed on the agenda for the purpose to lower the tax increase that was voted on. Bryner went through a timeline, stating that prior to the decision being made to raise the taxes, the possibility was brought up first on Sept. 19 of last year.
On Oct. 2, the commissioners formally approved setting public hearing dates and going forward with exploring the increase. An arduous process that spanned four months then commenced. Two public hearings were hosted that addressed many of the questions and concerns of the citizens.
“Before you can raise taxes, there is a very strict process that has to be followed,” Bryner stated.
He continued by stating that he believed that the commissioners went above and beyond the process, which is dictated by state law. The rate was below all of the cities in the county before it was increased and, following the increase, it raised homeowners property tax by 17%. Bryner then informed the commissioners that he had 21 days to look over the request and see if the petition is what the statute calls “legally referable.” State law dictates all of the steps that must be taken to increase or change a tax, it is not something that can just be put to the voters through the ballot box.
Bryner voiced concern that the petition may not be legally referable to the voters. This is the second request from the group and Commissioner Larry Jensen stated that from his view, those who continue to beat this, if they sat in the commissioners’ seats and lived with it for the time that they have and approached it with an open mind, they would see the need for what they did. Commissioner Jensen stated that he is personally unwilling to change the increase.
“To reduce the tax rate would eliminate many of the services we need,” stated Commissioner Jensen.
Commission Chair Tony Martines remarked on the thought process, saying that it was far from a knee-jerk reaction. He then agreed on not changing, which was then echoed by Commissioner Casey Hopes, who made the motion to deny the request. This was approved.