Moabites who live inside city limits pay property taxes to the county, the school district and a slew of special service districts. Not included on that list is the city.
Of the 247 incorporated cities and towns in Utah, Moab is one of three to not levy a property tax. According to city officials including City Manager Joel Linares and Mayor Emily Niehaus, the property tax was reduced to zero in the 1980s when Moab’s economy was in dire straits.
Now that the economy in Moab is stronger compared to that time, discussions of a property tax have been ongoing for some time. According to Niehaus, the prospect of raising property taxes has been politically unpopular, which she thinks is part of the reason past councils and mayors have not implemented it.
“With any diverse system, you try to diversify your income, and so that’s why property tax is being discussed,” Niehaus said. “But make no mistake, people have been talking about property tax since Moab started booming.”
Niehaus also said that part of the reason property tax has not been taken more seriously at the council and mayoral level is that the city’s tax revenues in recent years, by virtue of tourism-related taxation, has been relatively strong.
However, that could change if the state limits the amount of sales tax, including tourism-related taxes, that Moab can collect. Limiting opportunity for hotel developers could also impact this flow of revenue.