Wasatch County Board Of Education Votes Unanimously In Favor Of $5.8 Million Tax Increase
The Wasatch County School District Board of Education voted unanimously to raise taxes an additional $5.8 million. Most of the money will be used to increase teacher salaries in the district.
Wasatch School District Communications Director, John Moss says the meeting was well attended with people spilling into the hallway. He estimates there were 100 to 150 people there with many giving input.
He says $3.6 million of the total 5.8 million increase will go toward teacher salaries. The remainder will be used to purchase property to address future growth.
“We are in a highly competitive, market with Wasatch School District competing against Park City and the Wasatch Front schools and the Utah County schools for the best districts. And it puts pressure on each of us to keep our salaries current if we want to keep the best teachers. We are growing at such a rate here. Wasatch County is the fastest growing county in the state of Utah and the fourth fastest in the nation. And we’re growing at such a rate that we need more schools.”
Moss says the out of pocket increase for taxpayers will be $2.64 more this year per $100,000 home value. During times of growth, the legislature drops the tax rate to offset for the increases in property value revenues they collect. With the school levy, the board of education voted to keep it the same as last year in order to fund the $5.8 million in additional tax revenue.
“But if you look at it from where the certified tax rate would have driven it down had we left it alone. It looks like a huge increase, but actual out of pocket money for residents is much less than what they had thought.”
In two years, Wasatch is expected to be a 6A high school. Moss says the school board is likely to vote for the $150 million school bond referendum which would be on the ballot in November. They tabled the discussion in Thursday’s school board meeting and will take it up on Tuesday evening, August 20. By law the school board must decide on a bond referendum 75 days before the general election on November 5. The $150 million would fund a second-high school and rebuild an aging Midway elementary school.
“When I started teaching here 30 years ago, they were still driving cows down Main Street here in Heber City. And now, here we are with a 6A high school. The growth has just been exponential.”
Moss says the land for the additional high school is under contract and if the bond passes, they would have it operational by 2022.
“We welcome people to come on in and be involved in that. This is a huge thing for our community to go from one high school to two high schools. It’s painful in a lot of ways. So, it’s something we do encourage people to become involved with.”
The school bond meeting is Tuesday at 6:30 at the Wasatch Education Center at 101 East 200 North in Heber. The district has videos and details on the tax increase and the bond referendum on their website. You can find the link on KPCW.org.