Lately around the water cooler I've heard Tooele folks ask, when is a tax increase OK? In this politically charged year, most Government entities are doing all they can to avoid a tax increase. They are cutting staff, services, benefits, all to avoid raising our taxes. However, the North Tooele County Fire District is asking for a 20% tax increase! For those that aren't familiar, the NTCFD is the department that covers the unincorporated Tooele County's north end, with stations serving Stansbury Park, Erda, Pine Canyon and Lakepoint. Residents are pushing back a bit, because they just dealt with a large increase a couple of years back. So, why do they need more money? They argue that they are simply responding to higher demand and higher fuel costs. They also argue that the 1700 square mile area they cover is actually growing, and that people are demanding 24/365 service that they are trying to continue to provide. Opponents object to this, citing the fact that most of the other departments in Tooele County, like Tooele City, Grantsville and Wendover City manage fine with all volunteer departments, while the NTCFD has 3 full time fire fighters. The department counters that those fire fighters are spending their "spare" time doing the maintenance and repair work those departments contract out. They also mention that in 2009 they responded to 651 calls, while through November of this year they are already at 695 calls. What would the increase mean to a homeowner? For a $250,000 home, roughly the average for a home in Stansbury Park, the increase will take the tax from $80.30 to $95.98. There has been one public meeting so far, with a "Truth in Taxation" hearing to come in August, so any change won't happen before 2012. I'm usually opposed to tax increases, but I just don't know on this one. When is a tax increase OK?
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