Salt Lake City School District board votes to increase taxes
Salt Lake City School District officials voted Tuesday to increase property taxes, but not without dissent.
The school board voted 6-1 to raise an additional $3.2 million for next school year, which officials said is needed to give employees raises and maintain school programs.
Owners of a $250,000 home will pay $27.50 more annually.
Freshman board member Michael Clara said he had a problem with the information provided for the tax increase.
"I am voting against the proposed tax increase â¦ in large part because there was never any clear reason presented to require an increase," Clara wrote in an open letter, which he passed out during Tuesday's meeting. "The information presented by the business administrator was contradictory and inconsistent throughout the budget process. The business administrator either refused or was unable to answer budget questions with any amount of clarity."
Clara gave an example involving a program called Enhancement for Accelerated Students. In his letter, Clara wrote district officials said the program lost $255,676 and would need to be made up in the tax increase.
"In the previous budget cycle, the state gave the Salt Lake City School District $204,620 for the Enhancement for Accelerated Students program," Clara wrote. "In the current budget cycle, the state is giving the district $205,638, which is as you can see, an increase from the previous year. Not a 'shortfall' as we have been led to believe.
"Yet, our business administrator is telling us that this program is $255,676 short this year because of the Legislature's failure to 'fully fund growth' and a 'WPU [weighted pupil unit] shortfall.' "
Clara had another issue. In a postscript, Clara wrote: "I am also troubled by the fact that this year, the school board awarded a 6 percent increase to the superintendent and voted to give our employees a meager 1 percent increase. In an effort to rectify this disparity, I proposed an amended [sic] to the budget in our June meeting that was voted down."
After Clara mentioned the 6 percent increase at the meeting, Superintendent McKell Withers said, "That is not true."
Clara wanted to debate the point but was cut off when member Laurel Heath Young "called for the question," and all debate was stopped, and the vote taken.
Five residents expressed concerns to the board during the "truth in taxation" meeting.
"I'm concerned about getting taxed out of my house," Joan Lothrop said.
Suger House resident Meela Stokes said her taxes have increased $1,000 from the previous year, to which, school officials said she could contest her home appraisal until Sept. 16.
Overall, Salt Lake County's assessed valuation increased by 3 percent from last year, or an increase of $473 million, school officials said.
Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County officials are considering tax increases and will hold public meetings Aug. 15 and Aug. 8, respectively.
Tax proposal in Jordan District
At the Jordan School District, board members unanimously voted Tuesday on a resolution to put a $495 million bond on the November ballot.
Homeowners would pay $8 to $10 more in monthly taxes per $100,000 of house value, according to district estimates. The money would go toward renovations and new schools in the next five years.
The bond plan calls for 11 new schools (eight elementary, two middle schools and one high school) and buying property needed for those schools.
West Jordan elementary and middle schools would be demolished for a new school building. All schools without air conditioning would get units.
A public hearing on the bond will be scheduled in September.