Thursday, September 20, 2007

September ULCT Legislative Update

Campaign Finance Disclosure:

It looks like municipal campaign finance disclosure information may become a little bit more accessible if the legislative efforts of Rep. Brad Daw are successful. On Wednesday, Rep. Day presented proposed legislation that would require that the municipal campaign finance disclosures be submitted to the State Elections Website within seven days of their filing, so that the information could be made available electronically at a centralized database. The ULCT has been working with the sponsor and providing periodic updates to the Policy Committee regarding this issue. Due to our efforts to shape this legislation, it looks like the bill will have very little impact on the city administration, and will simply require that the information be transmitted to the state in a timely manner. The state will cover the cost of “warehousing” the information, and will provide several methods for submitting the information. We will continue to keep you posted as this issue progresses.

Electronic Notice Requirements:

The Political Subdivisions Committee heard an update on a law passed last year HB-222, which requires the posting of public meeting notices on a state sponsored website. The law does not take effect until April 2008, but much work has been done by the State Archives and State ITS to work with the cities, counties, school boards and special districts on the implementation aspects of the bill. The ULCT raised a couple of issues that they would like to see addressed prior to the law going into effect. Possible delays in the full implementation of the system, and a grace period for possible electronic notice posting mishaps were all mentioned as issues that need to be addressed. Because possible open and public meeting challenges may come up if the electronic noticing is not done properly, the ULCT would like to see some efforts made to ensure effective training and opportunity is given to the cities to be successful with the new requirement. While the cities supported the bill that passed last year, a few issues still need to be addressed. In addition to a “grace period” the ULCT requested that greater attention be paid to which notices we would like to have posted on the website. Currently the bill says all public bodies must post notice of meetings, but that definition is so ambiguous that greater detail may be necessary as well. We took the opportunity to talk with the bill sponsor and will be working through the issues in the next few months leading up to the 2008 session. Look for more updates on this issue as well.

Property Tax Hearing:

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to read the articles in today’s issue (Thursday September 20, 2007) of the Salt Lake Tribune ( or Deseret News (, you should do so. Needless to say, the public came out in droves on Wednesday to discuss their concerns with recent increases in property tax reassessments. What was unfortunate is that most people are confusing property tax increases with increases in assessed value. The current Utah law provides no new money to the taxing entity due to reassessments, but an individual’s tax bill may change substantially if their reassessed value is much higher or lower that the average value change for the other properties within the taxing area. What is helpful to remember is that just because the value changed, does not mean the taxing entity is getting any more money. The only way the taxing entity gets more money is if they go through a truth-in-taxation hearing and affirmatively raise the tax rate to net additional revenue. While this nuance was lost on many, the passion regarding the issue of property tax generally was certainly felt. It appears that the State Legislature will be looking to make some modifications this year to how property tax is assessed and collected. Hopefully they will address the real issue which is reassessment methodology and not fundamentally change what has proven to be a very good property tax system. We will be watching this issue closely and are sure to post more in future updates.