Some Salt Lake City homeowners may see lower property taxes this year

Salt Lake City School District approved its annual budget earlier this month, and decided not to increase its property tax rate.

Some Salt Lake City homeowners may see lower property taxes this year, after local school board members voted not to raise them earlier this month.

At their June meeting, Salt Lake City School District board members approved the district’s annual budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year, set to begin July 1. The budget included a slightly lower “certified tax rate,” the rate the district imposes on property owners to try and bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

Property tax rates in a school district are calculated based on how the city assesses its property value, said business administrator Alan Kearsley.

Each year, the county assesses the value of land across the region, and sets its “assessed value.” Kearsley said when the assessed value increases, as it did this year, the district will lower its certified tax rate.

“It’s a way to make sure that school districts have some consistency and know what revenue is going to come in each year,” he said.

So, as long as a homeowner’s personal property value hasn’t increased, Kearsley said, a lower certified tax rate means there is less they have to pay.

“An individual parcel [of land] ... its value could go up and they could actually pay more,” he said. “But you have another parcel in a different part of the city where they’re paying less, because the whole process looks at the entire city and not each individual parcel that gets taxed.”

According to the district’s approved budget, the estimated property tax on a $100,000 home in the 2024-2025 fiscal year will be $213.84 — $4.18 less than it was the previous year.

Additionally, the district will not be holding a “Truth in Taxation” hearing this year, Kearsley said, as those are only held if the district was planning to increase its tax rates for property owners.

Why do property taxes matter for school districts?

In March, the district shared concerns that the Fairpark redevelopment project, approved this past legislative session, could divert millions of property tax dollars — due to how it will incentivize developers through “tax increment financing,” or TIFs.

Kearsley told The Salt Lake Tribune then that projects taking advantage of TIFs in the city currently have diverted around $20 million in property tax dollars a year, which could be the equivalent of hiring 166 teachers.

He added that property tax money also goes towards capital improvement projects — like repairing and remodeling buildings, and other maintenance needs.

But the district has also been criticized in the past for wasting taxpayer dollars.

In December 2022, a state audit condemned the district for wasting those dollars by keeping schools with declining enrollment open. This January, the district ultimately decided to close four elementary schools — Bennion, Mary W. Jackson, Riley and Hawthorne — in order to “right-size” classrooms amid the district’s declining K-6 population.

Regarding the recent budget approval, Kearsley said the lower certified tax rate was not correlated to school closures.

He added that the change in contributions will be reflected in homeowners’ property tax bill, which is due at the end of November.