Salt Lake County justice tax: Is it a ‘reinvention’ or a retaxation?

Salt Lake County elected officials have talked about “reinventing” the justice system for nearly the entire time I have lived in the county. And yet, here we are a decade later, and they still want to keep a tax that has lived its life paying down a bond debt. We keep talking about reinvention, but taxes aren’t all that new an idea.

Salt Lake County justice tax: Is it a 'reinvention' or a retaxation?This week, Salt Lake County working on extending a tax originally used to build a new jail in 1995.

“In 1995, Salt Lake County voters approved a 20-year bond to build a new jail.

“But when the debt is paid off in December, Mayor Ben McAdams and the County Council want to keep collecting the tax revenue to deal with a “broken” criminal and social justice system.

“The average county taxpayer pays $2 a year for the bond, the mayor said. An extension would be subject to a “Truth in Taxation” public hearing this fall.

“Along with Sheriff Jim Winder and District Attorney Sim Gill, McAdams secured general council support Tuesday for a plan to keep the tax levy from the jail bond in place and to use its proceeds, about $9.4 million annually, for a “reinvention” of the criminal justice system.”

Now before you accuse me of “never seeing a tax I didn’t hate,” realize that I fully support paying the taxes necessary to support a free and just society.

But not one penny more.

The tax was approved originally for a capital project. Perhaps the tax will finally reinvent the justice system, and maybe we’ll see something new, and I hope we do see a change, helping people turn the corner, the mentally ill get help, and generally, decrease crime. Our justice system has some real problems, and I laud those who are working on ways to reform it.

BUT. The theme this year seems to “How many ways can we nickel and dime tax the average Salt Lake resident without it being that big a deal”? Between the transportation tax, rising property taxes (yep, mine rose the second year in a row), and now the Salt Lake County Council and Mayor working together to extend a tax (“but it’s only $2 a year!”), I’m starting to wonder if our elected officials see but one way to respond to all of their problems: taxation.Salt Lake County justice tax: Is it a 'reinvention' or a retaxation?

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