SB 214: Property Tax Relief and Modernizing Water Funding
This bill passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House 65-6.
Utah is one of the only states in the west that continues to allow water subsidies using property taxes. This has resulted in Utah not only having the “cheapest” water rates in the country, but the highest per-person municipal water use in the U.S. While there is constant talk of drought, consumers are given incentive to overuse water with little consequence.
The problem lies in how Utahns indirectly pay for much of their water. Instead of seeing the actual costs on a water bill, the real costs are hidden in property taxes. Consumers have little incentive to monitor their own usage because on its face, water seems extremely inexpensive.
Senator Lincoln Fillmore is sponsoring Senate Bill 214 in order to help fix this imbalance and bring property tax relief to Utah families. Water districts would have their ability to hide the true cost of water in your property tax bill restricted. SB 214 would curtail property tax subsidies in many of Utah’s water districts, while exempting smaller water districts that face a more complex water reality.
In the past this idea has been suggested by a legislative audit and the Utah Foundation as a way for consumers to better monitor their own consumption of water. Utah is a desert state and conservation of this precious resource is important. Allowing market forces to apply to water consumption is good tax policy and will provide the natural change that Utah needs.