The ballroom of the Uintah Conference Center was packed on Tuesday night for the Uintah County proposed property tax increase public hearing. While nearly 3 hours of the meeting was devoted to accepting public comment, the meeting began with elected officials sharing their take on the proposed property tax increase and the state of county finances. The most outcry from the crowd happened right at the meeting’s start as Commissioner Sonja Norton apologized for her comments during an October Commission meeting in which she suggested residents could get additional jobs to cover the cost of increased taxes. Many comments throughout the rest of the meeting criticized and opposed her original statements. Commissioner John Laursen urged community members to direct their frustration and questions over the proposed tax increase at the Commissioners rather than County employees who have dealt with increased harassment and anger from the public while at work. Commissioner Brad Horrocks shared a quick breakdown of where he feels the cuts to the budget can be made to avoid a tax increase, starting with a $1.2 million dollar cut in proposed raises to employee benefits. He claimed that new property tax growth, new sales tax growth, all-time high foreclosures and judgements, and future potential growth from Centrally Assessed taxes all support his position that no increase in taxes is needed. Treasurer Wendi Long took a few minutes to educate on how property taxes are calculated and how the decisions by Commissioners to reduce the certified tax rate year after year since 2016 have created the current need for an increase in property taxes. Clerk/Auditor Mike Wilkins also took a moment and emphasized that while no one likes tax increases, all like and expect the government services they receive. He also reminded all that the budget is still being worked on. Public comment got rolling after about an hour and was received for nearly 3 hours. Ben Allred read a letter into the public record on behalf of Ballard City, stating that this tax proposal will negatively affect citizens and businesses and asking that the Commission not raise taxes. Around 40 people took their turn to give public comment, the majority of whom were there to voice their opposition. A few defended the proposal as a consequence of past Commissioners choices. Former Commissioners Bart Haslem and Bill Stringer were both present and took turns making comments. Haslem emphasized that if the proposed tax increase is passed in December then a petition will be filed for a Referendum to get it on the ballot for a vote from the citizens. Comments were received until nearly 10pm. The entire meeting will be available for viewing online at www.channelv6.com and is expected to be loaded and available on Wednesday afternoon.