A minor tweak to the law that will allow counties of the third-class, that is counties with popoulations of 125,000 or less, and below more wiggle room in allocating tax revenue for transportation unanimously passed the House Revenue and Taxation Committee Thursday.
Sponsored by Representative Jack Draxler (Republican – North Logan), H.B. 183 – County Option Sales and Use Tax for Highways and Public Transit Amendments modifies the Sales and Use Tax Act to change the distribution of revenue collected for highways and public transit. Smaller counties would be allowed to give as little as 10 percent to transportation funding, as opposed to the 40 percent required by Proposition 1.
Several counties have found that the extra cash is unnecessary. “One of the key emphasis of this law was to promote multi-modal transportation. So, we want to recognize the efforts and the contribution that transit districts give, but we also want to have a little bit of extra flexibility for these smaller counties to address that portion of the sales tax revenue if the citizens passed it,” Draxler told the committee.
Cache County Executive Craig Buttars spoke in favor of the bill, stating that it is a necessary step to give much-desired flexibility for smaller counties. “I’d like to commend Representative Draxler for recognizing the need in these counties and for drafting this legislation to be able to meet that need for transportation funding.”
Buttars says Cache County officials discussed putting the sales tax on the ballot, but worried that too much would go to transit while the money is needed for road improvements. “This legislation will allow the flexibility that county and municipal leaders need to put that tax money where it can benefit the citizens most.”
Cameron Diehl, director of government relations at the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and Arie Van De Graaff, legislative analyst for the Utah Association of Counties, also praised the bill.