SB 151: Property Tax Relief and Modernizing Water Funding

This Bill did not reach a vote in the Senate.

Libertas Institute supports this bill.

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 real 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 Jim Dabakis is sponsoring Senate Bill 151 in order to fix this imbalance and bring property tax relief to Utah families. No longer would water districts be able to hide the true cost of water in your property tax bill. SB 151 would end property tax subsidies in the more urban areas of Utah, while exempting rural communities 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. Marketing campaigns and harassment by elected officials have proven ineffective. Allowing market forces to apply to water consumption will provide the change that Utah needs.